Location out of bounds


Resources for journalists

All Impact Stories
Jesse Pagel presenting a check to Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin to support Organ Donation

Jesse Pagels

Marrow Donation, Organ & Tissue, Recipient, Treatment

An avid runner and trumpet player, Jesse was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2003. After undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and a bone marrow transplant, he was cured. Unfortunately, the treatment damaged his lungs. Not only could he not run or play trumpet, he needed new lungs to survive. In 2013, a match was found and Jesse underwent a life-saving double lung transplant.

Looking for a way to give back – and reconnect with his passion for running – Jesse founded the non-profit Cream City 5K. Each year, the event not only donates its proceeds to Versiti, but is also brings awareness to the gifts of life that organ donors and families provide to Jesse and other patients in need.

Our partnership with Versiti is important, because they are on the frontlines of organ, tissue and eye donation,” says Jesse. “I received this incredible gift, and through this event, I’d like to help other people.”

In 2003, Jesse Pagels, a professional trumpet player and runner, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. After undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant he was cured of the Leukemia. Unfortunately, the Leukemia treatment had an unintended consequence. In late 2004, Jesse began developing pulmonary fibrosis in his lungs. By 2006 he could no longer play the trumpet or run, and as the years passed, his condition grew worse. Daily tasks grew increasingly difficult. Eventually, his lung function decreased to the point where he needed to use supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day, and in 2012 he was placed on a lung transplant list. Thankfully, in August 2013 Jesse received a call from his transplant center that they had a matching set of lungs for him an he received a double lung transplant. Because of this gift of life Jesse is once again a runner and trumpet player.

In October of 2015, Jesse founded the non-profit Cream City 5K as a way to raise awareness and support organ, eye, and tissue donation. Proceeds from the Cream City 5K will be donated to Versiti Organ and Tissue, a federally designated organ procurement organization supporting the transplant community in eastern Wisconsin. as well as other organizations that support organ donation throughout Wisconsin.

Every 10 minutes, someone is added to the organ transplant waiting list.

Approximately 113,000 men, women, and children are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. One organ donor has the power to save up to eight lives and change the outcomes of someone’s world forever by giving them a second chance. Additionally, tissue donation can save and improve the lives of up to 75 people with their gifts. You can make a huge impact by registering as an organ and tissue donor.

Learn more about organ and tissue donation, or register as a donor at https://donatelifewisconsin.org.

Other Impact Stories

Linkin Eger

Linkin Eger

Nine-year old Linkin Eger is no stranger to the up-hill battle with cancer, but blood donors have provided precious gifts to help Linkin thrive.

View Story
Elodi Ontala

Elodie Ontala

Born with sickle cell disease, Elodie has stayed strong and active thanks to the generosity of blood donors.

View Story
Misty Welch, and her family holding a picture of baby Dalton.

Misty Welch

Versiti Blood Center of Indiana’s Misty Welch had always wanted a son and when she was expecting a baby boy, it was a dream come true. However, their dream quickly turned into a nightmare. Read her story.

View Story

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more