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'It is a lifeline': Blood donations save Zionsville man's life

“There's no doubt in my mind that the blood donations made all the difference,” Kristen Lee said of her husband, Jamie, surviving a liver transplant.

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. — When you ask Kristen Lee whether or not blood donations saved her husband’s life, her response is immediate and unwavering. 

“There's no doubt in my mind that the blood donations made all the difference,” she said. 

Jamie L. Lee and his wife, Kristen, know the importance of donating blood all too well. 

“I'm a transplant survivor,” Jamie said. “June 29, 2019, is my 'liver-versary' day.”

Jamie Lee was diagnosed with liver cancer in August 2018. He was approved for a liver transplant a few months later, but things took a turn for the worst in March 2019, when he suddenly had a gastric bleed.

“We realized he was bleeding out,” Kristen said. “They brought in a bag of blood, and then, when you need the second blood bag of blood an hour later, they're walking in with another bag of blood and you pause and you think that that's a different person that just gave that blood. There are these doctors, there are these nurses and you're also thinking there were at least three or four other people that were here [because of] those blood products. The expiration date was a specific day they stopped, and they gave blood. It's humbling.”

Credit: WTHR/Carlos Diaz
Jamie L. Lee was diagnosed with liver cancer in August 2018 and received blood products every day leading up to his liver transplant.

Leading up to his liver transplant, Jamie was receiving blood products every day — and that blood saved his life. 

“As long as there are people donating blood, there are these blood products and these platelets that probably made all the difference in stopping the bleed,” Kristen said. “But if people hadn't given blood, what would the doctors have turned to to get him through in those moments to keep him alive?”

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Jamie is a registered nurse himself, so he knows the importance of donating blood. 

“It is a lifeline,” Jamie said. “It's the lifeline that people can take time out of their day to be selfless. They don't know who it's going to go to, and it can be any race, color or creed. It's going to save anybody’s life.”

Kristen says her church in Zionsville, her neighbors and her family came to her, asking what they could do to help while Jamie was fighting for his life.

“You can do something: You can go give blood,” Kristen said. “Even if it doesn't wrap around to the person that you're concerned about, you're part of a community that's lifting up these people who are dealing with health crises. That's really, really important and beautiful.”

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