Former Navy SEAL, Hollywood stuntman, and skydiving instructor, Jeff Bramstedt didn’t hesitate for a moment when he heard that a young mother needed a liver donation or she would die.
He did not know the woman. Jeff is humble and self-effacing about donating his liver. He did it because he didn’t want a young woman to die.
Jeff discovered that the 35-year-old Melinda Ray suffered from a genetic disease and was near death. She was in desperate need of a liver transplant. Melinda was getting worse fast. And none of the people who so far had offered to donate livers had qualified.
Jeff Bramstedt was on the parachute team while he served as a Navy SEAL.
Melinda used social media in a last-ditch effort to find a donor.
“We had just had candidate after candidate being ruled out and the symptoms were progressing,” said her husband, James Ray.
While Melinda’s illness was terminal, her liver technically was still functioning, so she couldn’t score high enough on the transplant list to get a liver from a deceased donor.
In order to survive, she would need a live liver transplant.
He said the “days were getting harder” as her prognosis grew dimmer.
As her Facebook plea began to expand outside of her circle of social interaction, it ultimately found its way into the feed of a 47-year-old skydiving instructor and former Navy SEAL in California.
Jeff Bramstedt found out about the appeal because his wife and Melinda Ray’s sister were friends on Facebook.
“I’d do it,” he said upon hearing of the woman’s need, said his wife, Robin Ihnfeldt.
“He’s always been an amazing man,” she said of her husband. “He hears bullets and he runs into these situations.”
“I feel that I have a little sister now,” he said. “We literally share DNA at this point.”
The livers, Jeff’s current one and Melinda’s new one, will regenerate. Within three months, Jeff should be able to once again jump out of airplanes and do stunts on action movies like some of the favorites he’s appeared in: “Men of Honor,” “Transformers,” “Hancock,” “Lone Survivor” and “Deepwater Horizon.” Melinda soon should be well enough to relish simple pleasures like walking her children to school.