35-year-old Coloradan Melinda Ray was quickly dying from a genetic disease destroying her liver.
With her health condition on the decline every day and little hope for finding a match for a transplant, the outlook for Melinda’s survival was looking rather grim.
“We had just had candidate after candidate being ruled out, and symptoms were progressing. They were progressing fast,” said husband James Ray to ABC News, adding that “the days were getting harder.”
However, James was not ready to give up on his beloved wife and mother of their three children.
In his desperate search for the right match, he decided to post a plea on Facebook in hopes the right pair of eyes may fall upon his message.
But of the hundreds of friends and family members who saw his post, it turned out to be a total stranger that would be his wife’s saving grace.
When Robin Ihnfeldt heard about Melinda’s situation through her sister, she told her husband, Jeff, about their search for a match.
Upon hearing about the woman’s failing liver and dire need for a transplant, he responded without hesitation: “I’d do it.”
“He’s always been an amazing man,” says Jeff’s wife, Robin, of the former Navy SEAL. “He hears bullets and he runs into these situations.”
Doctors warned Jeff that the process could be risky, and even fatal, but that didn’t stop the San Diegan from flying all the way out to Colorado to the rescue.
As a skydying instructor and Hollywood stuntman for movies like “Deepwater Horizon” and “Iron Man,” this man is no stranger to danger.
“I think I probably considered it for all of half a second before I said, ‘I’m up let’s do this,’” he told ABC.
Besides, he just couldn’t stand the idea of people standing around doing nothing while a good-hearted soul like Melinda was on her deathbed.
“I think the majority of it is it’s just not okay with me that someone would die if people just sit around on their hands,” said Jeff. “I’m kind of a do-something type of person.”
“You’re going to change someone’s life,” he added. “It could be the difference between life and death for somebody.”
Jeff ended up donating 60 percent of his liver to Melinda, and both of them are recovering well after the successful surgery.
“I feel that I have a little sister now. We literally share DNA at this point,” said Jeff. “She gets extended years, she gets to raise her kids, to be the mother that she’s always wanted to be and live out life with her husband.”
As for Melinda, she’s just grateful that such a kind stranger would risk his own life so that she may have a second shot at hers.
“It gave me really great hope, and humanity, and hope that I could be a mom and a wife, because that’s something I wasn’t sure was going to happen through the year,” said Melinda.
“And just the fact that someone would put their life on hold for me and stop their life and save mine, you know, it meant everything to me.”