Saved by Someone Else’s Blood – Jenny Eller

Jenny Eller was a tough, ball-playing, active high school student. While trying to figure out the cause of a bruise during her senior year she was given a death sentence – diagnosis of a very aggresive form of leukemia.

There wasn’t much hope for Jenny since most diagnosis of this type left a 30-day window of survival. She entered into a brutal chemotherapy treatment plan. The treatments gave Jenny four more years of life.

The inability of her body to reproduce her own blood cells was one of the side effects of the treatments. I first read of Jenny’s story in the 2007 November/December issue of Today’s Christianmagazine. I’m still impacted today by Jenny’s words of gratitude to those attending a donor banquet for her local blood bank. She knew she owed her life to those who offered their blood to save her body. Her words to those donors were: “Thank you…for letting me live…My body no longer makes blood, and every ounce in me belongs to someone else. Your blood may be coursing through my veins right now! Thank you for letting me live.”

Jenny’s life is a great illustration of what Jesus did for us. Sin separates us from God forever. There’s no way I can pay the debt incurred by my sin. I’ve done bad things. You’ve done bad things. God is perfect. The result is that sinful people don’t get to live with a perfect God. If He just dismisses the wrongs we’ve done it’s not fair. He would be unjust to just say, “Kidding. I won’t hold you accountable. Everyone can just get into heaven for free.” A judge who doesn’t hold any criminals responsible but lets everyone free makes a mockery of justice. That’s why the only fair thing for God to do is hold us all responsible for our sin. Unfortunately, the result is that all of us are guilty and don’t deserve to get into heaven. The other option is to find a way to pay the debt for our sin. Since you and I aren’t perfect, we can’t pay for our sin. The payment has to be perfect. Since only God is perfect, the only solution is for Him to be the One to pay our penalty. The penalty is death – and Jesus takes our place. A perfect, sinless God dies in my place, and your place, on the cross. He pays the penalty once and for all.

If Jenny had opted to receive no treatment for her leukemia, she would have died almost immediately. It would have been a tragicly short end to an already tragicly short life. Instead, she chose to undergo treatment for her condition. But, to stay alive, she had to chose to accept the blood of someone else. We have that choice in regard to our sin. I could stubbornly decide I’ll take my chances on how I’ll do by depending on my own ability to overcome my sin penalty. Or, I could choose to trust the sacrifice of Jesus on my behalf. Faith is believing Jesus’ sacrifice did once-and-for-all cover the debt for my sin as the only way to reconcile to God. The result? Ephesians 2:11-13 > But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

The choice is yours. Talk to God today. Tell Him you believe this and accept Jesus’ death as payment for your sin; that you have faith in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as enough to bring you forgiveness and secure your place in heaven forever.

Want to know more about Jenny’s story? Here’s a video produced by Johnson & Johnson of this story featuring Jenny’s dad, Dean Eller.


Below is a written account of Jenny’s story by Dean Eller. It originally appeared on the Stanford School of Medicine “Champions” webpage. (See it on the original page at THIS link.) The text is below.

And, if you’re able, please give blood. One way to honor Jenny’s memory is by helping save the lives of others. Find a blood bank near you, and give.

The Unexamined Life and All,

Below is an article written by Dean Eller, CEO of Central California Blood Center, about his daughter’s battle with leukemia and his commitment to carrying on her legacy.

“There’s no easy way to tell you this,” lamented the doctor that day in January of 1992. “It’s what we feared. A very aggressive type of leukemia. One-third of those diagnosed die within 30 days. I’m sorry.”

My wife, Claudia, and I sat in shock. Words choked within us. How could this be? Our daughter, Jenny, was an attractive high-school senior—a straight-A student! As the all-star catcher on the softball team at Bullard High School in Fresno, California, she was being recruited by several Division I universities. As we drove home from the doctor’s office, I asked Jenny what she thought. Without hesitation she said, “I just don’t want you and Mom to be sad…because I’m not sad. I’m a little nervous about the treatment, but I’m not sad! I know God is in control, and whatever the outcome, I know I am in His will.”

Her composure stunned me. At a time when most teenagers would be falling apart, my daughter picked me up, put me on her shoulders and carried me. For the next four years, as she fought this cancer, she showed me what courage—and
life—is all about.

Six powerful words
Within days, Jenny began chemotherapy. Because the treatment wiped out her body’s ability to make blood, she received
at least two transfusions a week. Over time she would use hundreds and hundreds of pints of life-saving blood.

I’d first seen the need for blood in Vietnam when I was 21 and serving as a medic, but I’d never known anyone like Jenny who needed so much blood to stay alive. Not long after she was diagnosed, our local blood bank asked Jenny to attend its annual appreciation luncheon to thank the donors. Claudia and I remember that day clearly. Jenny wore a long dress, and her head was bald. She walked up to the podium and looked out at the 800 regular donors in the audience, held out her hands, and her chin began to quiver: “Thank you . . . for letting me live.”

Six words. The most powerful words a blood donor can hear.

“My body no longer makes blood,” Jenny explained, “and every ounce in me belongs to someone else. Your blood may be coursing through my veins right now! Thank you for letting me live.”

Jenny understood that those donors were keeping her alive, and she became passionate about increasing the blood supply in our community.

For the next four years, Jenny became the official spokesperson for the Central California Blood Center. She spoke to service groups, schools, and churches throughout the area. She did media interviews and commercials, and even called potential blood donors—sometimes from her hospital bed—all while fighting this insidious disease.

Four precious years
When Jenny died on October 28, 1995, a month before her 22nd birthday, she lost her battle with leukemia, but she
fulfilled her purpose in life. Just before she died, I promised her that I would carry on that work. To me, it was like receiving a spiritual transfusion.

At Jenny’s memorial service, I urged people to give blood in her memory and to consider becoming regular donors (giving every eight weeks). For many, the importance of donating blood finally hit home. I gave my first speech two days after we buried Jenny, speaking in her place at a Rotary Club meeting.

Hundreds of faithful donors kept our daughter alive and gave us almost four more years together—a gift beyond measure. Four precious years that Jenny enjoyed as she finished high school and started college, an optimistic pre-med major. Four years of celebrating birthdays, Christmases, and family outings. That’s what blood donors gave us. Not just blood, but four more years for this father to watch his daughter mature into a young woman and fall in love with a wonderful young man. Four more years of father-daughter talks into the wee hours of the morning, just the two of us.

Not just blood, but memories to last a lifetime.

The Blood Banker
In November 1999 I became president and CEO of the Central California Blood Center and worked hard to turn around the Center’s blood deficit. In the last six years—in what I believe is the direct confirmation of my calling—we have not had to import even one pint! In fact, today we export between 500 and 1,000 units of blood every month to other blood
centers in need.

Individual names aren’t available, but I know that thousands and thousands of lives around the country have been prolonged or saved because Jenny fulfilled her purpose in life and helped me rediscover mine.



Posted: October 20, 2011 
Filed under: Deep Thoughts with Pastor Jeff, Pastor Jeff, Spiritual, Waterbrook Bible Fellowship
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