Mother Of Three Got Life-Saving Transplant From Facebook Stranger

Melinda Ray, a 35-year-old wife and mother from Colorado, was dying from a liver disease, until a former Navy SEAL responded her Facebook plea and gave a part of the vital organ.

Photo: Jeff Bramstedt/ABC News

Earlier this year, Melinda was not sure she would make it to 2018. A polycystic kidney disease that spread to her liver deteriorated the woman’s health gravely.

She and her husband, James Ray, were desperately looking for a transplant.

“We had candidate after candidate being ruled out, and symptoms were progressing fast,” James told ABC News. The days were getting harder.”

Melinda Ray with her husband. Photo: ABC

When all hope were abandoned, Ray put her message to Facebook in September 2017. The post engaged friends, relatives and complete strangers. This was Melinda’s last-ditch call for help.

It eventually reached Robin Ihnfeldt, who was a friend of Melinda’s sister. She told her husband, Jeff Bramstedt, about the situation. With no hesitation, 47-year-old Hollywood stuntman and former Navy SEAL responded:I’ll do it”.

Robin was not surprised by his reaction. As she later described her husband to ABC News, “He’s always been an amazing man. He hears bullets and he runs into these situations.”

Jeff Bramstedt during his time as a Navy SEAL. Photo: Jeff Bramstedt/Facebook

“It took me literally two seconds to make a decision,” Jeff told PEOPLE. “It just wasn’t okay with me that somebody was going to die.”

Jeff his wife both agreed to go through tests to find out if they were matches. Though Robin did not qualify, Jeff appeared to be just a perfect donor.

I feel that I have a little sister now. We literally share DNA at this point

He agreed to undergo a surgery to give Melinda 30 percent of his liver. Doctors of UCHealth University of Colorado warned him about risks.

“There’s a lot of things that can go wrong,” Dr. Elizabeth Pomfret told Bramstedt. “Including the risk of dying.” Jeff was still up to this.

Photo: Jeff Bramstedt/ABC News

In December 2017, Bramstedt traveled from California to UCH in Aurora, Colorado. The transplantation was successful.

Surgeons joked that Jeff would probably have to wait 10 weeks before he could jump of an airplane again.

Bramstedt says he has gained something extremely important from this experience — a new bond with a person he saved:

“I feel that I have a little sister now. We literally share DNA at this point.”

Bramstedt and his wife received holiday cards from Melinda’s children. On this particular card, a happy liver is depicted. Photo: Jeff Bramstedt/ABC News

When Melinda is speaking about what Jeff did, she can barely hold her tears back:

“Just the fact that someone would put their life on a hold for me and save mine means everything”.

Jeff himself just hopes he could be an example:

“An average guy can step up and be a hero to somebody whose life is going to end. Hopefully, we can make my and Melinda’s story not so extraordinary.”

Sources: ABC News, People

Featured image: Jeff Bramstedt/ABC News

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