“Will to Live” (submitted by Kim McMahon)
William "Will" McMahon
My son William “Will” McMahon was an active, healthy, 16-year-old honor student. During the last week of 2004, he suddenly developed flu-like symptoms. Less than a week later, Will was diagnosed with inexplicable liver failure.
He was flown to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Fla., in critical condition. We were told that, without a liver transplant, he had just 24 hours to live. Miraculously, he received a donated liver in time to save his life. Following his transplant, Will fought bravely to recover and successfully returned home to resume his school work along with his passions of surfing and playing the guitar. However, five months later, Will developed complications and was relisted on the national transplant waiting list—he needed a second liver transplant. Will was not so lucky this time. A donor liver never arrived, and he passed away on May 19, 2005, as he waited.
My experience has made me an enthusiastic advocate for donation. Following Will’s passing, I founded Donate 4 William, a not-for-profit foundation, in my son’s memory with the goal of educating others about the overwhelming need for registered donors. I spend much of my time speaking to schools, civic groups and other audiences to encourage everyone to register as organ and tissue donors. I also am honored to serve on the United Network for Organ Sharing Patient Affairs Committee where I work to make a difference in organ donation policy and procedures on behalf of patients.
I am motivated to spread awareness about the need for organ and tissue donation because I know that every day 18 people die waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant and more than 110,000 Americans currently are on the national transplant waiting list. Regrettably, fewer than half of the eligible registrants in the United States have decided to be organ and tissue donors. We can save the lives of those in need by registering ourselves and encouraging others to register as organ and tissue donors. It takes less than one minute to register your decision to be an organ and tissue donor at DonateLife, the Donate Life America Web site, or at the DLA-affiliated donation advocacy organization in your state. In Illinois, that organization is Donate Life Illinois.
For more information on Will and his story, I encourage you to view the short documentary Will 2 Live.
Register your decision to be an organ and tissue donor at DonateLifeIllinois.org.