Miracle Monday: Jimmy's story - A 1 in 24 million chance at life
Some of life’s best stories – are when the seemingly impossible becomes possible: tales of hope at the end of affliction or overcoming odds stacked so high – you aren’t sure you’ll make it out.
Jimmy Roberson – a paper mill worker and former county commissioner - knows quite well odds are tough to beat.
It’s easy to get lost in curvy, busy hospital hallways.
But this path, Jimmy Roberson knows well.
It’s the walk where a miracle happened.
"The Good Lord has given me a second chance," Roberson said.
A trip to the lake in 2013 – started a journey. One Jimmy says – changed the course of his life.
"All of a sudden the lake started spinning," Roberson said. "I got really dizzy. I felt so weak I dropped to my knees. "
Doctors diagnosed him with severe Aplastic Anemia. after a series of procedures, nothing seemed to work.
"My doctors told me without a transplant, you’ve got 6-9 months to live," Roberson said.
He needed bone marrow, and doctors couldn’t find a match.
"There was no match in my family," Roberson said. "The doctors here at UAB pursued further and there was no match in the United States. So then I started getting really concerned."
Jimmy loves the beach. He told his wife – he wanted to take one last trip to the coast before time ran out.
When they got back to town, another walk down these halls. This time his doctors told him he’d won the lottery.
"I'll take the transplant over the lottery," Roberson said.
A one in 24 million chance.
"They called us back and when we met then they had found one perfect match," Roberson said.
"That’s what’s so amazing," Dr. Donna Salzman, Jimmy's doctor at UAB said. "There are donors out there available for individuals. Sometimes we find that perfect match."
Jimmy had to wait two full years before he could find out who the perfect match was, but finally - a face and a name.
A 27 year old nurse in Hamburg, Germany who along with her roommate signed up to give.
The Roberson family wanted to say thank you face to face, so they sent her an invitation to visit Birmingham and after a time she accepted.
"What do you say to an individual who has done so much to save your life? This lady did," Roberson said.
" Neither one of us could talk," he said. "Neither one of us. We knew if either did, we would burst out crying."
Her visit - the beginning of a new friendship.
"I was excited that I could finally help someone," Alina Franke, Jimmy's donor said during her visit to Alabama.
"I have a special angel in Germany now," Jimmy said. "Without that young lady I wouldn’t be here today."
The miracle match giving Jimmy the gift of time.
"The nurses, the nurse practitioners, can see how patients go from being very sick to looking like this in a few years," Dr. Salzman said. "It’s an amazing story and we love to see it!"
"It’s been a journey, but it’s been a good journey," Jimmy said. "I just thank that young lady for giving me a second chance at life."
November the 12th marks three years since Jimmy’s transplant. He says he celebrates every passing year with a re-birthday cake - thankful for another year with family and friends.
Jimmy told us, by telling his story, he hopes at least one more person will consider signing up for the registry.
Here is the link to learn more about Be The Match: https://bethematch.org/support-the-cause/donate-bone-marrow/