Join the Swim Team- Transplant Recipient Bill Coon Releases Book

September 9, 2010

Many of you are familiar with Bill Coon as he shared his experience waiting for a heart and kidney transplant with the DLI blog readers. Many of us followed the emotional and physical struggles a transplant patient experiences through news stories and Bill’s personal updates. Bill is now sharing his story with the world. SWIM: A Memoir of Survival will be released soon. He introduces the book and his blog below.


Hey DLI blog followers,

I am very excited and pleased to announce that my book, SWIM: A Memoir of Survival will be released this month! I say “this month” because due to technical issues, it may not be on Amazon by the date I had hoped it to be. I was originally shooting for September 13, 2010. In anticipation of the release, I began a blog entitled, “13 Days of SWIM.”

Each day I give either an insider’s view into the creation of the book, or sneak peeks at some of my entries.

SWIM: A Memoir of Survival tells the story of my battle with end-stage heart and kidney failure. At the onset of my illness I began writing my thoughts as a form of personal therapy. After writing for two weeks, I realized that if I were to survive, my words could someday be a means of support and motivation to someone who found themselves in my situation.

The book takes you into my hospital room and follows me through my work-up to get on the organ recipient list, and my eventual 58 day wait. During those 58 days, I fought through countless procedures. I took an emotional and spiritual trip into my own mind, and walked out of the hospital a changed man. I would later return home, where I would find myself grieving over the fact that someone had to die for me to be living. However, in the end, I would find peace. I would look back on everything I had been through, smile and say, “Knowing what I know now, I would do it all over again.”

I hope you’re ready to SWIM…

Please feel free to check out my blog entries. If you are interested in learning about the books release, please join my SWIM TEAM to receive a reminder.

I hope you enjoy my blog!

Bill Coon

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Dear Santa…

December 21, 2009

We’re happy to share a nice reflection post from heart and kidney recipient Bill Coon. Thanks for sharing Bill and Happy Holidays to you and your family!


Bill Coon

Never has the Christmas tree looked as beautiful as it does this year.

The white lights seem to have a life of their own, as they illuminate the ornaments that gently rest upon the branches. Each ornament brings back a memory from a Christmas past. The tree itself seems taller, almost mammoth-like. It stands tall and proud even with the absence of presents. The void below the Christmas tree caused me to ponder what I want this year for Christmas.

Anything that can be store-bought seemed so meaningless and cold. It was then that I realized my Christmas had come early this year, and that I have already received the greatest gift of all, the gift of life.

This Christmas, I wouldn’t be able to stare at this magnificent tree if it were not for my donor. This Christmas, I get to watch old holiday films. This Christmas, I feel the same excitement that I did as a child on Christmas morning as I dashed frantically down the stairs to see what Santa had brought for me. I would have never been able to do any of this if it were not for the family of my donor, who in their darkest hour mustered the ability to step outside of their pain, so that they could take away mine.

I have thought about it, and I realize what I want more than anything this year for Christmas.

I want my donor family to be happy.

Though it will be extremely difficult, I want them to be thankful that they have each other. I want their holiday to be filled with the same traditions, and for the New Year to bring them only happiness, because they gave me happiness. I am thankful for them, and I am thankful to be alive.

Holiday wishes to all,


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Post Transplant Update from Bill Coon

December 3, 2009

Our last update here on heart and kidney transplant recipient Bill Coon was from back in October when Bill had just received his transplants. I recently checked back in with Bill to see how things have been going. Below is a letter from he sent back along with a few recent entries documenting his recovery.


Bill Coon

I apologize for my recent hiatus from this blog. I returned home on November 2, 2009 for the first time in seventy days. Since returning home, I have been very busy trying to get my life back on track, as I have been noticeably growing stronger with each day. Much of my time has been preoccupied with writing thank you notes, and a large amount of homework that I am behind on from my online courses.

I have recently read many of the comments from the September entries, and I want to say thank you to everyone who had written such beautiful messages to me. I truly appreciate your prayers and support.

In an attempt to make up for lost time, I have included two exerts from my forthcoming book “Swim”, and I plan on becoming a much more frequent blogger now that I am filled with a form of energy that I have not felt since December 2008.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I wish you all an even better holiday season.

I hope you all enjoy,

Bill Coon

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Today is my one-month anniversary of receiving my life-saving heart transplant. I was thinking about what I wanted to say in this entry, how I could possibly express my gratitude to my donor, and that’s when I realized that I can’t. The best I could do is simply describe how wonderful I feel.

I have come a long way since surgery; in fact, I have come a long way since last week. I feel revived. I run up-and-down stairs without thinking, I can eat anything I want without thinking twice about sodium. The only pain I experience is muscular pain in my shoulders, and even that is decreasing as the weeks go by. My life is back on track, my future has once again been restored, I am finally happy again.

As much as I want to vast in the glory of my survival, I can’t. It has dawned on me several times throughout the day that though my entire family has been writing me emails congratulating me on my “one-month”, I realize that somewhere in this country there is a an entire family in pain. They are faced with the gloomy realization that a month ago today they lost their loved one. Obviously, I don’t know what the family looks like, but I continuously get this image of four women sitting at a table, as their tears fall on the picture of their lost family member. I can’t shake the image; it’s just stuck in my mind.

Thursday, November 26, 2009 – Thanksgiving Day

What am I thankful for on this Thanksgiving? I should definitely start with the obvious, I am thankful for my donor. I am thankful for the unselfish generosity of his/her family. I am thankful that they were able to look outside of themselves during their darkest hour and make a decision that saved not only my life, (but I can only assume), the lives of many others.

I can imagine that they spent this day struggling to find something to be thankful for. Everything positive in their lives must have no comparison to the sadness that they felt on October 21st, and the sorrow that they are still without a doubt experiencing. I wish I could do something to help ease their pain, but I know that I cannot. This thought tore at me as I tried to indulge in the ham and turkey throughout the day. It’s 4:02am and I still haven’t been able to shake the thought from my mind.

The only minuscule comfort that I can find for the family that saved my life, is the fact that they have forever joined a community. They have joined the community of those touched by organ donation, the same overwhelmingly loving, and supportive community that reached out to me during my time of darkness, offering their support, stories, and words of encouragement. The very community that on this Thanksgiving I give thanks to.

On this Thanksgiving I am thankful to no longer feel pain when I move my legs. I am thankful that I no longer have a catheter protruding from my neck, and that I no longer have to take Morphine to get through the day. I am thankful for my unbelievable support system of family and friends, and for the staff at Northwestern who took a man who was in shambles, and with the power of modern-day medicine, pieced him back together stronger than he has ever been.

On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful to be alive.

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Organ Donation Video – Waiting for a Second Chance

October 29, 2009

A few weeks ago, members of the DLI team headed down to Charleston, IL to visit Eastern Illinois University to film a video with student Carissa Coon, sister of Bill Coon.

We originally filmed this video to provide some shareable content for participants of our Campus Challenge to pass around to friends, family members and fellow students to help drive home the importance of registering to be an organ donor. While producing the video last week, we received word that Bill had received his lifesaving heart and kidney transplants. Bill’s cousin Natalie, reports that Bill is recovering great.

Take a moment to check out the video below and share with others!


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Donate Life Illinois Campus Challenge – Week 3 Update

October 28, 2009

campuschallenge09After week three of the 2009 Donate Life Illinois Campus Challenge, Kankakee Community College holds on to the top spot with Eastern Illinois University still following in second. U of I and WIU are neck and neck for the third slot.

We were also thrilled to hear that Columbia student Bill Coon received his heart and kidney transplants this past week! Bill’s sister, Carissa, has been highly involved in EIU’s Challenge efforts. Check out this past blog post for a complete update and keep an eye out for a follow-up video featuring Carissa and Bill.

The Challenge was also recently covered in this great article from the College of DuPage’s student paper, the Courier. The Journal-Courier also did a nice article about MacMurray College’s efforts.

We’ll keep you posted with another Challenge update next week.


Current Registration Total:  624


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Update on Transplant Patient Bill Coon

October 22, 2009

Bill Coon recovering in hospital. Photo from WAOW-TV.

Recently, we’ve featured a couple posts about Columbia College student Bill Coon who has been waiting for a lifesaving heart and kidney transplant for the past four months.

Bill’s cousin Natalie, a news anchor for WAOW-TV in Wausau, WI has been providing updates on Bill’s status whenever possible. We were elated to learn yesterday that Bill has received his heart transplant and is currently in surgery this morning for his kidney transplant.

To echo Natalie’s report this morning, our thoughts to out to the donor family for their gracious gift as well as to Bill and his family for a successful surgery this morning.


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Waiting For a New Heart – September Entries

October 19, 2009

In a recent post, we told you about Bill Coon, a 20-year-old college student currently waiting for a heart transplant.

Today, we’d like to share two entries from Bill that he wrote in September. We offer these posts to provide a raw perspective into the emotional and physical struggles that some transplant patients experience. We’ll continue to share posts as Bill sends along. Feel free to share a comment of support for Bill below.


Bill Coon

Bill Coon

Friday, September 11, 2009

It has been eighteen days since I have felt the warm touch of the sun on my skin, went to the bathroom without collecting my urine in a plastic container, or simply used a shower.

I experienced a great deal of pain today. Every inch of my body aches, and to make matters worse, the pain is being caused by four ailments, two of which can be rectified.

The gout is steadily coming back. My uric acid levels increased again, as a result my knees, hands, and jaw began to feel tight and arthritic. Fortunately, I caught the pain before it worsened. The Rheumatology doctors were called in, and they increased my Prednisone dosage. It’s now 11:18pm, the pain has finally begun to subside.

Every muscle in my body feels not only weak, but also sore. The sensation is comparable to the pain that you feel the day after a high-intensity workout. It is a struggle to get in-and-out of bed; everyday activities such as going to the bathroom are becoming a battle in and of themselves. My doctors informed me that the pain I am experiencing is a result of the toxins in my body rising from my inability to receive dialysis, and the fact that I have had so much water pulled off of me from the use of diuretics, my body simply is “too dry.”

Atop of all these problems, my potassium levels are at an all-time low. I was given IV potassium, and warned that potassium can be uncomfortable. My warning proved to be right, as my entire vein burned up through my bicep and into my shoulder. I finally couldn’t handle the pain, especially because I knew that it was not a mandatory drug. My nurse removed the IV, and placed an ice pack on my bicep; it helped subdue the pain.

Though today was filled with discomfort, I have a strong feeling in my gut that tells me the surgery is around the corner.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Waiting for the phone call that will save your life is far worse than knowing you are slowly dying an emotional death.

Anxiety builds as you wait for a phone call. Your mind begins to play tricks with you. You begin to think everyone is keeping secrets. You become convinced that everyone around you, including your nurse, knows something. The gestures and actions of the Residents begin to seem awkward. You wonder why they are talking to you, as you convince yourself that they are a part of a secret society-a group of individuals that know your fate, but are sworn to hide the facts.

I wasn’t going crazy yesterday however. Both of my doctors confirmed my suspicions when they admitted that at one point they had a perfect heart donor match. Unfortunately, the kidneys of the donor were damaged when the donor passed, making the heart no longer a “match” for me.

I’m getting tired of everyone texting me, asking if I have heard anything yet. It seems as though whenever I am able to get my mind off of the phone, no sooner does someone contact me begging for an update. I think I need to send out a broad message to all my friends and thank them for their support, but at the same time ask them to stop questioning me about my “phone call status.”

Today was not an enjoyable day. I can’t stop thinking about life after transplant. It’s so close, but it seems so far away. I just want to spend a night alone in my studio apartment, and have a day go by where I do not hear the words “kidney” or “heart.” I want to be normal again. I hate being the center of the attention. I just want all eyes to be on someone else for one day. I want to be Bill again. I’m tired of being “the brave one.”


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