10-year-old Daniella Neve from South Fayette goes public in hopes of finding living kidney donor for her dad

Daniella Neve from South Fayette, one of the best 10-year-old softball players in the country, is trying to hit another home run. But this time, she’s trying to score a kidney.

Daniella’s Dad, Ryan, has only 4% function in his kidneys and spends three days a week in dialysis. It not only takes time away from his family and job. It’s also exhausting and painful. But he doesn’t let that stop him from taking Daniella to practices and traveling to her tournaments.                  

“Nobody has a better heart than her,” Ryan says about his daughter. “She always checks on me. She doesn’t let me leave her sight. And I feel terrible that I have to put her through this, but she’s so strong for me.” 

Daniella’s TikTok account showing her softball videos has 4 million likes and 84,000 followers. She posted a video holding a poster asking for a living kidney donation for her Dad, and it went viral.

“I wanted to help my dad, because I know he’s trying his best to get his kidney,” Daniella says, “and I really want to support him through that because… he’s very strong. He’s really strong, and he’s gone through so much in life. I really want to help him.”

Dr. Amit Tevar, Ryan’s doctor and surgical director of the Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program at UPMC, is impressed with how Daniella is using social media.

“This is fantastic,” he says of Daniella Neve’s use of TikTok, “and I think it will serve as a model for how things are done in the future.”  

With so many people using Tiktok, Daniella sees it as a great way to reach potential donors: “It’s a good way to interact with people,” she says.

Dr. Tevar says Ryan’s diabetes and high blood pressure caused his kidneys to rapidly fail through no fault of his own. Without a living donor, he could wait six years for a kidney while dialysis ravages his body.

“Dialysis is not indefinite. For people on dialysis, you will eventually have a complication, and it’ll lead to your demise,” Dr. Tevar said.

Ryan explains what it feels like with dialysis three days a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday: “A lot of people, they’ll call me and say, ‘Hey, how do you feel?’ and I say, ‘It depends on the day.  Tuesday and Thursday, I feel human. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I feel like a zombie.’” 

If you’d like to help Ryan, donating a kidney is a laproscopic surgery with two to three days in the hospital and a couple of additional days to recover. A kidney donation will likely extend Ryan’s lifespan by two to three times.   

”You can’t understate that you are truly saving someone’s life,” Dr. Tevar says.

“Imagine not knowing whether or not you’re going to have the strength to walk your children to their graduation,” Ryan says. “It’s hard for me to ask for help because I’ve been so blessed in life, and I’ve always wanted to help people. But I’m on the other end now, and I need help. And if you can relate to this, now I’m asking for that help from you.” 

If you’d like to see if you’re a match to donate a kidney to Ryan, visit livingdonorreg.upmc.com.

At that site, you can fill out a form (include Ryan Neve’s name with the correct spelling). The folks at UPMC will then reach out to explain more about what it means to be a donor and how to find out if you’re a match.

Want to hear more about how Pittsburghers are using TikTok just like Daniella Neve to help others? Check out this story.