Melinda Ray wasn’t sure she’d live to see 2018. Then a stranger stepped forward with a special gift to save her life.
One woman’s plea for a liver donor seemed close to impossible until her message made its way to a perfect stranger, who ultimately became her perfect match.
Melinda Ray, a 35-year-old wife and mother of three from Colorado, was dying from a genetic disease that was rapidly destroying her liver.
“We had just had candidate after candidate being ruled out, and symptoms were progressing. They were progressing fast,” her husband James Ray told ABC News. “The days were getting harder.”
Desperate to find a match, Ray moved her message to Facebook, where her plea for a donor spread from relatives to friends and eventually to complete strangers.
Robin Ihnfeldt heard about Melinda Ray’s condition through her friend, Melinda’s sister over the summer. She told her husband, Jeff, that Ray had been unable to find a match. Without hesitating, Jeff Bramstedt, a 47-year-old former Navy SEAL from San Diego, California, said, “I’d do it.”
“He’s always been an amazing man,” Robin Ihnfeldt said. “He hears bullets and he runs into these situations.”
Bramstedt, now a skydiving instructor and Hollywood stuntman for films like “Iron Man” and “Deepwater Horizon,” turned out to be a match for Ray and agreed to the 10-hour transplant surgery. But doctors at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital warned him this could be risky.
Chief of transplant surgery Dr. Elizabeth Pomfret said she told Bramstedt, “There’s a lot of things that can go wrong, including the risk of dying.”
“I think I probably considered it for all of half a second before I said, ‘I’m up let’s do this,'” Bramstedt told ABC News.
As the year comes to an end it’s great to know there are people like Jeff Bramstedt around.