06/27/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT
Last June 9-year-old Jessy Klein of Port Washington, Wis., took off on her bike to a friend's house. A block from her home, she was hit by a garbage truck, dragged 20 feet and pinned under the 28-ton vehicle. "It burst her pelvis and crushed her leg," says Dr. Thomas Sato, her surgeon at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. "She was bleeding to death—didn't think she'd survive." Still, in the hospital, the gravely injured child managed to speak. "She said, 'Daddy, am I going to die?'" says her father, Bob, a punch-press operator. "I worried I'd lose my little girl."
Thanks to more than 100 accidental angels, Bob and his wife, Debbie, don't have to worry anymore. Saved by massive transfusions during multiple surgeries, Jessy is on the road to a full recovery. To honor the blood donors who unknowingly came to her aid, the Blood Center of Wisconsin did something on an unprecedented scale: contacting everyone whose blood was used and inviting them to a June 2 thank-you party. "A young guy like me isn't supposed to cry, but I felt tears," says Chad Krueger, 21, one of 49 donors who attended. "I couldn't help but want to hug her."
Jessy says she was "overwhelmed" to meet her benefactors. After five months in the hospital, she's walking with crutches and swimming. And she's got another goal in her sights. "I'm scared," she says. "But I'm going to ride my bike again."
"I got chills when I heard her story," says Julie Armour, one of 49 blood donors who joined Jessy June 2.