The Breath of Life: Jennifer Sabin Sattley and the Amazing Sacrifice of Two Ward Members

The October 2006 Ensign (in print but not yet online) shares the story of Jennifer Sabin Sattley, a beautiful 24-year-old and new bride. Jenny would have died long ago from cystic fibrosis were it not for the incredible sacrifice of two ward members who donated lobes of their lungs for Jenny. Two donors were needed for a new medical procedure that would remove Jenny’s diseased lungs and replace them with two single lobes taken from the large and healthy lungs of two donors.

Donating a portion of your lungs is a risky and permanent sacrifice, and requires weeks of recovery after the difficult procedure (a lot of lost work at a minimum). In spite of that, 30 friends and acquaintances came forward and offered to serve as donors, mostly members of the Poway California Stake where she lived. Doctors were shocked at this loving response of so many. Five passed the preliminary screening, and in the end only two of the five had lungs healthy enough for the procedure: her Bishop, Graham Bullick, and another member of her ward, Jim Davies. The charitable attitude of these men floors me. Both were guided by the Spirit and knew that this was the right thing for them to do. As they prepared for surgery, they gave Jenny and each other blessings. Jennifer’s father, Gary Sabin, said, “I don’t know how you really describe the feelings of the powers of heaven that we felt in that room.”

The surgery went well. Doctors were amazed to see the condition of Jenny’s lungs, operating at about 9% capacity, and were surprised that she had remained alive at all with such damage, though she was near death. Several days later, the donors were able to see Jenny, and it was a powerful and beautiful reunion. The surgery was successful – Jenny would live. “We all just wept,” Debbie Bullick said, ” for we knew that we were standing on holy ground.”

I marvel at how the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings people together, willing to work together, to bless each other, and to make great sacrifices for one another. The miracle of charity, the hallmark of real Christianity, is so beautifully illustrated by this story of two men, including Jenny’s own bishop, who risked their very lives to give Jenny the breath of life.

Author: Jeff Lindsay

7 thoughts on “The Breath of Life: Jennifer Sabin Sattley and the Amazing Sacrifice of Two Ward Members

  1. My home stake as well. (Connor and I hail from the same ward in Poway though different generations). It is a story worth retelling many times over.

  2. Greater love hath no man … It really makes me think, “Would I do something like that?” I think I’ve got a long way to go.

  3. Does anyone know if she really no longer has CF?? I’d really like to know because I didn’t think that lung transplants did that since it’s a genetic disorder. I have the disease myself, and am worried about the prospect of a transplant in the future. =(


  4. For anyone who is interested in CF, the CF foundation is working on finding a cure. Great strides have been made, and there are great promises for the near future. Contact the CF foundation for information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.