-- Stranger Miraculously Saves A Woman’s Life Not Once, But Twice

 

Heartwarming

Watching the news these days can often feel hopeless. Sometimes, it can even seem like there are only bad things occuring in this world because of the depressing things we read in the newspaper. 

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Here’s an emotional story that will surely restore your faith in humanity. People aren’t always willing to do things simply out of the kindness of their hearts, but what one man chose to do was completely selfless and will hopefully inspire others to make similar choices in life. This man’s compassionate act will give definitely give you a glimpse of hope and remind you how generous and kind some people can be.


Wanting To Make A Difference

Back in 2010, Jeramy Davies was a normal guy living a pretty average life. He was a college student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. “I was busy living my life, building a house and making all the plans that you normally make,” he recalled.

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One day, Jeramy decided to take initiative to host a bone marrow drive with Be The Match at his school. He had no idea that this decision would end up saving someone’s life.


What’s Be The Match?

Be The Match is a foundation operated by the National Marrow Donor Program and is a “global leader in bone marrow transplantation.” The organization is dedicated to saving lives through bone marrow donations.

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They strive to find genetically matched bone marrow donors for people that are suffering from a number of blood related cancers and diseases such as leukemia. The company is based in the United States, but also receives donations from generous people all over the world.


Slim Chances

Be The Match is an amazing organization that does their best to give people a second chance at life, but it doesn’t work out that way. It can be incredibly difficult to find the right match for bone marrow transplants. Only about 1 in every 430 Americans that donate to Be The Match actually end up successfully donating to a patient.

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Jeramy was aware of the statistics and knew that his chances of actually helping someone were pretty slim, but he decided to take the plunge and donate anyway.


The One Phone Call That Would Change Everything

Jeramy continued his life as normal and graduated from university. In May 2015, five years after he donated his bone marrow at Texas Tech, he received a phone call that would drastically change his life and the life of a desperate stranger.

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“I never thought about it honestly that much again,” explained Jeramy. “I knew that I was on the registry, and if I ever did get a call, I’d of course say yes.”


Worth The Pain

Jeramy is one of those types of people that thrives on helping other people. He is constantly doing altruistic acts of kindness and thinking about how he can benefit other people, instead of himself.

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Donating bone marrow isn’t the most simple procedure, and most donors experience side effects afterward such as pain or discomfort. But when Jeramy was donating, he knew another person’s life could be saved at the expense of feeling temporarily uncomfortable. That was enough to cause him to immediately say yes when asked on the phone if he was still open to donating. 


What Is Lymphoma?

The Be The Match informed Jeramy during that phone call that he was a potential match for a 27-year-old woman with lymphoma named Kelly.

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Lymphoma is a serious type of cancer to the blood that occurs in the immune system. Patients with lymphoma may undergo intensive chemotherapy and radiation therapies to help kill the cancerous cells. Though these procedures have a good chance of killing the lymphoma cells, they also target the stem cells in the person’s bone marrow. That’s why bone marrow donations can be so helpful to lymphoma patients, as they help restore the stem cells in the person’s body.


Fifty-Fifty Chance

Kelly Ribeiro from New Jersey was diagnosed with lymphoma when she was only 25 years old in 2013. She had already undergone treatment for her cancer, but she was still in desperate need of a stem cell donor. Without a bone marrow transplant, she was going to lose her life.

“I was given a 50 percent chance. Without it, I had no shot,” explained Kelly. Thankfully, Jeramy’s stem cells were a perfect match and he was about to save her life.


Totally Anonymous

Due to privacy restrictions, the donor and the recipient can’t have direct communication or share contact information like phone numbers until a year after the transplant has been performed. Therefore, Jeramy was given very little information regarding the person who was going to be receiving his bone marrow. He didn’t even know her name! All he knew was her age, gender, and the illness she had that caused her to be in need of a bone marrow transplant.

Jeramy was quick to jump at the idea of helping the poor young woman, and didn’t hesitate for even a moment when he was asked if he was still willing to donate. He went through the donation a month later.


Classified Info

Be The Match’s confidentiality rules protect both the donor and the patient throughout the process of bone marrow transplantation. Actually, by US law, they are required to keep the patient and donor’s personal details classified until after the first year. Then, direct contact can be made between the two people only if both sides give their consent to share that information. 

Within the first year, some communication is allowed, as long as it's done anonymously by sending cards, letters or gifts without revealing identities. 


Personal Struggles

At the same time that Jeramy went through the bone marrow donation, he was dealing with some personal troubles of his own. 

Jeramy’s beloved wife Laura was in remission during that time after suffering from brain cancer. Laura had been diagnosed with a grade ⅔ astrocytoma just a year before, on September 11 of 2014. She was forced to undergo intensive brain surgery to remove the tumor, followed by extensive chemotherapy and radiation. Laura’s sickness took a huge emotional toll on Jeramy’s life.


Making His Wife Proud

Laura had stuck by Jeramy’s side throughout the entire donation process. She was so appreciative of his amazing husband, who had put his needs aside to help another human being. The cancer survivor understood personally what it feels like to be terminally ill and in desperate need of support. She was grateful to have a husband that was willing to do whatever it takes to help a very sick woman.

“She said that’s the proudest she’s ever been of me,” Jeramy recalled. “...That we could actually directly affect someone like that and save a life and never even know them or meet them at the time.”


Procedure Completed

The bone marrow transplantation had been completed. Jeramy’s stem cells were infused into Kelly’s body by a central line. The new stem cells traveled through Kelly’s body and into her bone marrow, where they began to multiply and create new, healthy, cancer-free cells. The donation had completely saved Kelly’s life, and she was feeling much better post-transplant. 

Jeramy and Laura were thrilled that the transplant was a success. The couple returned back to their normal lives, satisfied they were able to help a sick girl in need. 


It Wasn’t A Given That The Bone Marrow Transplant Was A Success

There’s no way of knowing if your bone marrow donation will actually end up helping someone in the long run.

Only one in forty people that register to donate with Be The Match will get called back for additional testing. This secondary process can help narrow down the list of donors to get the perfect match for a patient in need. Only one and three hundred donors past that step and get invited to an information session about the donation process. During this step, donors can be dropped if they have changes in their health or the patient’s condition has changed. About one and 430 Be The Match registry members will actually end up donating.


The Wait Is Over

A year after the bone marrow transplant was performed, Kelly and Jeramy were allowed to get in touch with each other. Jeramy was so excited to finally find out who he gave his bone marrow to, and Kelly was anxious to discover who it was that gave her a second chance at life.

Jeramy reached out to Kelly with an email, and the two of them began text messaging each other. Even though they had never met before, they shared a special and powerful connection after Jeramy saved Kelly’s life.


Immediate Bond

Kelly and Jeramy instantly clicked and began to chat all the time. “You feel like you know this person, but technically you’re strangers, but it doesn’t feel like that all, so you just want to start rolling into natural conversation, and it just feels like you know them already,” explained Kelly.

The two of them shared a special bond that could never be broken. Kelly and Jeramy began to speak on the phone, having regular and frequent phone calls to catch up on each other’s lives. 


Standing By His Wife

The communication between Jeramy and Kelly slowed down at one point in October 2016 due to a dreadful occurrence in Jeramy’s life. 

After a couple of years in remission, Laura’s brain cancer had returned. Jeramy was heartbroken to see the love of his life go through the entire ordeal all over again, but he was going to help his wife get through the difficult time. Laura had surgery in March 2017 to remove the tumor, and everyone thought she was finally in the clear.


A Tragic Diagnosis

In late May of that same year, Laura’s doctors made a shocking discovery. Even after removing the tumor during the surgery in March, they found a rare tumor in her brain.

The tumor they had found is called a gliomatosis cerebri. This type of cancer is so uncommon that less than a hundred people are diagnosed with it each year. Gliomatosis cerebri occurs when a specific type of cancer cells spreads and multiplies quickly and deeply throughout multiple parts of the brain. 


Saw The Signs

Some early symptoms of the disease include dementia, seizures, and problems with vision. “We knew the signs when she started having seizures,” explained Jeramy.

The prognosis for gliomatosis cerebri isn’t too bright, with a survival rate of only about 18 percent. With the odds against them, Jeramy tried his best to remain optimistic for the sake of his wife and hoped that they would still have time left together. He was heartbroken when Laura’s condition worsened, and she eventually passed away. “They gave us six months to a year, and it was two months, and she was gone,” Jeremy said tearfully.


His Biggest Supporter

Laura’s death came as a huge shock to Jeramy. She was a survivor that had fought off her disease more than once, and Jeramy was hopeful that she would have been able to overcome this obstacle. When he was taken away from her much earlier than he could have ever imagined, his grief felt unbearable. 

Jeramy received constant support from his friends and family while he mourned the death of his wife, but nothing quite like the encouragement he got from Kelly. Though they had never physically met each other, Jeramy felt comfortable enough to open up to her about his grief. 


Opening Up

“The first six months after she passed, I was mourning, and I wasn’t coping with grief very well,” said Jeramy. “I talked to Kelly a lot about that. She was a good support system for me.”

Kelly appreciated Jeramy’s openness and vulnerability. She constantly offered him a shoulder to cry on and encouragement to keep moving forward. “I was happy that he opened up a lot after everything that happened and I’m just glad that he would even reach out to me,” Kelly explained gratefully.


Bonding Over Facetime

When Jeramy turned to Kelly after Laura’s death, it caused their bond to strengthen even more than ever before. Jeramy felt comfortable chatting with Kelly throughout his entire mourning process. Kelly was a victim of cancer herself, and she’s aware of how terrifying death of a loved one can be.

They began to Facetime and call each other on the phone all the time. “She understood everything I was going through, and she was a huge source of strength.”


FaceTime To Real Time

Jeramy and Kelly’s became so close that they felt as if they were each other’s family and had a brother-sister relationship. They confided in each other about everything they were each going through at the time.

After so many months of FaceTime calls and text messages, the two of them decided it was finally time to meet each other in person. Jeramy was so dedicated to meeting Kelly for the first time that he quit his job and headed off to a road trip in January 2018 to meet up. Jeramy took the long drive to Union City, New Jersey, which was Kelly’s hometown.


A Secret Revealed

Right before Jeramy set off for his road trip, he spoke to Kelly’s mother on the phone. She revealed a startling secret regarding Kelly’s current health condition.

It turns out that Kelly was in desperate need of a new kidney. Her kidney started failing due to previous condition. When she got a bad case of pneumonia and fell into a coma, she was forced to start dialysis three times a week when she woke up. Kelly was miserable during this process. “I never felt so sick and depleted as I did with kidney failure,” she said. “Every day, I could feel the life draining out of me.”


What Is Dialysis?

Dialysis is a treatment that needs to be done when your kidneys are no longer functional and able to take care of your body’s needs. It keeps your body in balance after kidney failure by removing waste protects and excess fluid. It also helps maintain safe levels of certain components in the blood and controls blood pressure. 

The process isn’t very comfortable, and each session lasts about four hours. If Kelly misses a treatment, her entire body can quickly shut down. This wasn’t a permanent solution for her though, and a donor kidney would save her life.


Why Didn’t She Tell Him Before?

Starting to go through dialysis three times a week is definitely a major change in someone’s life, so it may seem strange that she didn’t update Jeramy about this detail during one of their many phone calls. But Kelly had personally hid this information from Jeramy because she knew how hard of a time he was going through after losing Laura. Kelly didn’t want to burden him with her own issues or make him feel like he was obligated in any way to donate his kidney to her. 

“She’s always been one that doesn’t want to take from other people,” explained Jeramy.


There Couldn’t Have Been A More Perfect Match For A Kidney Donor Than Jeramy

After a kidney transplant is performed, the person’s body can view it the new organ as a foreign object and reject the kidney. Anti Rejection medications are often given to the kidney recipient, but these strong drugs have uncomfortable side effects.

Now that Kelly already had Jeramy’s stem cells in her body, they basically shared the same blood and it was like having an identical twin. Chances of rejection were so low that Kelly would be able to take much fewer rejection medications than she would if she had gotten the kidney from someone else.


Without Thinking Twice

When Jeramy became aware of Kelly’s current situation, he didn’t hesitate for a second before offering to save her life again. “This man offered that kidney immediately. Immediately!” exclaimed Kelly. “I never really thought about it,” Jeramy said. “I was just like, ‘Yeah of course I’ll give you a kidney. We already know we’re a match.’” He convinced Kelly to rematch and she was so grateful for him. 

When the day finally came, Kelly and Jeramy prepared for the surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital. They were inseparable from the moment they arrived at the hospital. 


All About Kidney Transplants

Human beings are born with two kidneys, but we really only need one of them to survive. That’s why lots of people choose to donate one of their kidneys to someone in need; because their body will function just fine without it.

Kidney transplant surgery is an interesting and complex procedure. The donor goes under anesthesia and a surgeon removes one of the kidneys through an incision in the lower abdomen. Meanwhile, the kidney recipient is under anesthesia as well, waiting to accept the new, healthy kidney. A surgeon then transplants the donor’s healthy kidney into the recipient's body. 


First Words

Kelly and Jeramy’s surgeries both went smoothly. Kelly’s body accepted Jeramy’s kidney with no issues at all. After Jeramy woke up from surgery, the first thing he asked was, “How is Kelly?” Almost simultaneously, Kelly’s anesthesia wore off and her first words were, “How is Jeramy?”

“It’s the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done,” said Jeramy after he recovered from surgery. He was thrilled that the transplant was successful and he was able to help Kelly one again.


The Feeling Was Mutual

Kelly wasn’t the only one who benefitted from Jeramy’s amazing deed. Jeramy himself felt great satisfaction in knowing he could help Kelly. Jeramy suffered through intense depression after his wife passed away. 

Losing a loved one can trigger powerful feelings of grief and send some people in a downward spiral. It’s obviously natural to feel sad after a loss. But if those feelings are prolonged and the feelings of hopelessness don’t seem to go away, it could be a sign of depression. 


Giving Him a Purpose

What really dragged Jeramy out of that dark hole was saving Kelly’s life, not only once but twice! 

“I won’t say it gave meaning to my life again, but it kind of did in a little way,” Jeramy explained. “I was depressed for a while after I lost Laura, and she really helped kind of bring me back. Getting to see someone happy and live their life again... it’s overwhelmingly positive for me to know that I had an impact on someone like that.”


Life Changer

For Kelly, the kidney transplant wasn’t just about getting off the dialysis treatments. Jeramy’s kidney could potentially be a permanent solution for her. The doctors will obviously continue to monitor her and perform regular tests, but she might be able to keep the kidney for life without experiencing any other issues. 

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“I never met anyone so selfless. He really acted like it was no big deal. But he saved my life twice. He is my guardian angel, and he is now family forever,” said an emotional Kelly.


Back To Reality

Jeramy and Kelly returned back to their lives after the procedure, but they always kept in touch. They continued to talk on the phone and meet up for dinner to catch up. 

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After struggling with health issues for seven years, Kelly was finally ready to regain strength and get back on her feet again. She is planning on earning a master’s degree in Library and Information Science at Rutgers University, a research school in New Jersey. As for Jeramy, he’s ready to get his life back on track. He moved to Denver and spends his time snowboarding and training for an upcoming triathlon.


Become An Organ Donor!

Jeramy and Kelly’s story is a perfect example of the magic of organ donation and how it can save people’s lives. With 8 whole organs that can be donated in a human body after it dies, that gives you a chance to save 8 sick people’s lives.

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The donor surgeon at Mount Sinai, Dr. Edward Chin, was blown away by such an emotional procedure. “This is such a compelling story,” he said. “It was such an altruistic thing for Jeramy to do. It reminds us that there’s so much good in the world.”


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