Dozens of farmers finish harvest for neighbor who had heart attack after trying to extinguish farm fire

A farmer in North Dakota suffered a severe heart attack while attempting to extinguish a fire that broke out in the combine he was using to harvest the crops on his farm.

Lane Unhjem was forced to leave his crops unharvested after being hospitalised due to his heart becoming too strained, which would have been a significant loss for his family both personally and financially.

Nevertheless, as one of his friends once put it, “you reap what you sow.” Unhjem, who developed close ties to the people in the Crosby region, enlisted the help of a group of 40 to 50 individuals from nearby farms to harvest a total of 1,000 acres of crops in just under seven hours.

To learn how a group of farmers came together to aid a friend, keep reading!

In September 2020, Lane Unhjem was on his combine, harvesting durum wheat and canola on his farm in, North Dakota, when the machine caught on fire.

Unhjem, a grandpa, suffered a “major heart attack” while attempting to put out the fire and prevent it from destroying his crops. He was taken to the hospital, where, according to his family, he was also treated for a damaged kidney. After being started on dialysis, Unhjem was hospitalised under strict observation and added to the transplant waiting list to replace both kidneys.

Back at home, neighbours were banding together to support the family, and their generosity sparked a spike in interest among online users all around the world.

“Everybody knows the Unhjems, and they’re good people and good in the community, and [it’s] just kind of the farming way of life too. You help your neighbor out when they need it, and don’t expect anything in return.”

Family friend Jenna Binde told local news, KFYR TV. “I talked to a couple of farmers, got their equipment, and then other people just started calling and we had equipment offered from all over the place in the county, and their workers to go with it,”

With that spirit of cooperation, neighbours postponed their own harvesting requirements and arrived to Unhjem’s property to complete the task.

“You reap what you sow! That’s the old saying that can apply to a lot of things in life. Well, today it has a two-fold meaning–harvesting crops and helping friends!” friend Don Anderson writes on his Facebook.”

“Now that Lanes health is being taken care of, it came time for his friends and neighbors to spring into action, which is common in small town life. Approximately 40 to 50 farmers, driving combines, pulling grain carts, driving semis and various other harvest related items, converged on the Unhjem farmstead and they will take care of harvest for Lane and his family today. I believe there was about a dozen combines involved,”

It took less than 48 hours to execute the plan and then Anderson explained machinery “knocked off 1000 acres in just over 7 hours.”

It didn’t take long for the social media posts to go viral.

A man from Kansas writes, “It’s what America was built on–neighbors helping neighbors,” and one netizen from South Africa shares, “Awesome neighbors. If only the whole world would care for each other like this, what a great world it would be!”

Samantha Coates, the daughter of Unhjem, marvelled at the community’s efforts and shared pictures and a sincere thank you on Facebook. Days after her dad was admitted to the hospital, she uploaded the picture with the caption:

“We can’t thank you all enough for everything!!  Here are just a few photos I was able to snag between everything. I have no words for how thankful we are for the support, prayers, and all you have done!! What an incredible community of loving and caring people we have!!!”

Friends and strangers jumped in with support and prayers.

One writes, “Coming from a farming family…. these pictures are worth their weight in GOLD and will be family treasures in many, many years to come,” while a second comments, “This is so awesome. I love hearing about my home community working together. Sending lots of prayers to your family.”

A third shares, “Neighbors helping Neighbors, it is a humbling sight”

On Tuesday, November 24, the family provided an update on Unhjem via a previous GoFundMe (established to assist in paying for Unhjem’s expensive medical bill

“We received word that they had a donor for both heart and kidney that was a perfect match for Lane! So, late on Wednesday evening, Lane went into surgery to replace his heart. The doctors were very pleased with how the heart transplant went and on Thanksgiving morning they took him back in to start the kidney surgery. Saying we had thankful Thanksgiving doesn’t do justice to the emotions we were all feeling that day!!!”

After spending 108 days in the hospital, Unhjem was discharged and scheduled regular appointments to monitor his kidney and heart functions and look for any indications of rejection, according to family social media. And as of right now, he appears to be getting better!

What a fantastic tale! When people band together to support someone who stands to lose so much, it is such a beautiful thing.

We are grateful that there are people like this in the world, and we hope that their narrative will encourage others to follow in their footsteps.