By Reg Chapman

By Reg Chapman, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Her family calls what happened to Jamie Hammer a Christmas miracle. Months later, she is telling the story of the transplant that saved her life.

“Yes, I can take a deep breath now. I haven’t been able to do that for a while,” said Jamie.

She can now breathe freely, after a lung transplant saved her life.

“My lungs are cooperating,” she said.

Jamie was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when she was only five months old. She led an active life until last October when at 31 years of age her lungs began to fail.

It was days before Christmas 2010 when her family learned that without a transplant, Jamie might not live to see Christmas Day.

“Things were really starting to get pretty scared and we knew we were running out of time,” said Chris Hammer, Jamie’s husband.

Jamie spent 100 days in the hospital. Her lungs came just in time.

“Family and faith and hope is what got us through this,” said Jamie.

The transplant took place on her step-daughter Jillian’s birthday.

“It’s more than just a fresh start, it’s a new birth,” said Chris.

Now Jamie is on the mend.

“My lungs were less than 20 percent before the transplant. They’re now at 71 percent,” said Jamie.

She is busy spreading the importance of organ and tissue donation.

“When they choose to be an organ donor they are changing lives they are saving lives,” said Jamie.

Last year, in the region that includes Minnesota and Wisconsin, there were 59 lung transplants. Eighty people are waiting for a lung transplant and thousands more are waiting for other organs.

Jamie hopes telling her story helps others decide to give the gift of life.

“It’s the baby sister who is our hero,” said one of her sisters.

Jamie’s sisters never left her alone in the hospital. Now they are rarely separated.

They look forward to family gatherings, precious time together. Something that would not have been possible if another had not decided to give that gift of life.

“There is a greater purpose with life and I’m going to figure out what it is and every day just do what I can to take advantage of this new life,” said Jamie.

She is already helping others. The University of Minnesota called her back to help be an inspiration to another young lady who, like Jamie, was waiting on a lung transplant.

Jamie returned to the same room she spent 100 days waiting for her lungs to reassure her new friend that miracles do happen.

Jamie’s friend Cindy received her lungs the very next day.

Comments (7)
  1. Kat says:

    Jamie is such an amazing person! She has done so much to ease the anxiety my sister Cindy faced before and now after her lung transplant! A BIG THANK YOU Jamie : ) Please check the organ donor box on your licenses!!!!!

  2. Julie Ann Kendall says:

    If you’re not signed up to be a donor please reconsider..

  3. Connie says:

    Thanks to the gift of life our family received from a donor family our family will be forever grateful. Their generosity and compassion will never be forgotten. Thank you.

  4. Michele says:

    Thank you Jamie for your support of my sister Cindy- it meant the world to our entire family! Also thanks for all your efforts to bring attention to organ donation. Waiting for a loved one to get a transplant….watching her struggle for every breath… trying not to think about the “what if” is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the family of the donor!!! Because of your selfless gift my sisters and I still have our sister, my parents still have their daughter, my brother-in-law still has his fiance, and my baby niece still has her mommy. What an amazing gift organ donation is! Help save more loved ones–check the box!! I love you Cindy!

  5. Chris says:

    It is a simple, yet very hard choice to become an organ donor. But that single decision can have such far reaching effect on so many people. I was in the position of “what if….” and although it was impossible to think about it, the knowledge that there could be some good, made it a little easier. We will forever be more then grateful to the donor family, and to God for bringing Jamie her perfect lungs. To have this additional time is unbelievable, you can’t measure the impact, but I can tell you that those lungs have allowed ME to breath again, and I am only 1 of several hundred close to Jamie that feel this way. Please make a choice, and pay it forward with becoming an organ donor today?! God bless.

  6. nancy says:

    Thank-you Jamie and thank you to cbs in minnesota for reporting on this touching story. Its truly a miracle for our entire family that my sister-in-law, Cindy will have a chance to live a healthy life raising her beautiful daughter. Thank you so much to the donors family, the gift of life is truly the ultimate gift. Please become a organ donor today! Nancy

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