For the past six weeks, 20-year-old Columbia College student Bill Coon has been waiting for a heart transplant. His story has been covered in Columbia’s campus paper, CBS in Chicago, the Daily Herald and extensively by Bill’s cousin who is a reporter in Wisconsin.
In connecting with Bill a few weeks back, we asked if he’d be willing to share some of his thoughts for us here as he patiently awaits his new heart. It’s rare that we’re able to share a very raw transplant patient perspective, and we thank Bill for his willingness to do so. We’ll post updates from Bill when we can. Below is a brief intro from Bill.
Twenty years ago I was born with a defective heart. To be specific; I was born with a hypoplastic left ventricle. On my twenty-first day of life I became the fourth infant transplant in the Midwest, and the eighth in the nation. Since then, my life has been outstanding. Because of my infant donor, I have been able to lead a normal life. I went to school, played baseball, had girlfriends; I was your typical 20-year-old.
Then, on Monday, June 8, 2009, my life changed. I was diagnosed with an unknown form of heart failure, later deemed “transplant vasculopathy.” My heart had begun to fail me. Not only that, but my kidneys were slowly deteriorating as well after years of taking anti-rejection medications. For a month, I struggled with the sadness, and my constant worries about my future.
However, my support system was phenomenal. I had so many friends and family helping me through my crisis that I eventually realized just how important a support system is. It then came to me that there are so many people waiting for donors, that many of them may not have the same support system I do. They are probably scared, and unsure of what is going to happen next. I began to write a journal with the hopes of showing anyone waiting for an organ that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I also hoped to somehow help raise awareness of the importance of organ donation.
What you will be reading in future posts are excerpts from my forthcoming book SWIM. I will continue to post more exerts as my journey back to normalcy continues.