For the first eight years, Jenna Mihalevich’s life consisted of feeding tubes, a major surgery and countless hospital stays. Born three months premature and diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis, a serious gastrointestinal issue, she was hospitalized for six months before going home for the first time. Thanks to a donor hero, Jenna received a lifesaving small bowel transplant at 7 years old.
“The day we got the call about her transplant, Jenna and I were playing basketball in the driveway,” Jenna’s dad, Troy Mihalevich, said. “She felt fine. She seemed fine. But she wasn’t; she was sick. Her liver was failing, and her bowels were essentially gone.”
The gift of organ donation has helped Jenna thrive for the past 22 years. The Mihaleviches’ strong faith has sustained them through their hardships and given them joy in their triumphs.
“I try every day to honor my donor,” Jenna said. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here. I wake up every day thankful. I’m thankful for my parents, and without Jesus, I also wouldn’t be here.”
Jenna’s family has become passionate about organ donation because of the lifesaving impact it has had on them. They refer to Jenna’s donor as “the greatest hero.”
“I tell everyone I can about organ donation because it saved my life,” Jenna said. “And it can save other lives, too.”