Athens teen speaks about receiving a second chance at life - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Athens teen speaks about receiving a second chance at life


by Natalie Sparacio

ATHENS (WAOW)--  Last month, 18 year old Darin "Doogie" Weiks Jr., of Athens, received a lifesaving liver transplant at Mayo Clinic, and just returned home last weekend, from the hospital.

In part 1 of my special report, I talked with the family, about how it feels to receive the gift of life.

When 18 year old Doogie Weiks of Athens was born, he was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, called G-S-D, or Glycogen Storage Disease, it centers around the liver.

The illness forced him to face obstacles his entire life.

Doogie says, "... I had to take cornstarch and kool aid mixtures four times a day, I had to be hooked up to a feeding tube at night that fed me sugar, so I wouldn't get a low blood sugar..."

Last October, lesions were discovered on his liver, placing him on the transplant list in November.

Julie Weiks, Doogie's Mom says, "... you try and maintain your day to day lives, yet always in the background you're thinking, could today be the day... and after waiting so long, it kind of feels like it's not going to be today... and the day we actually got the call it's amazing the emotion you go through."

During his wait for lifesaving surgery, Doogie was featured on ESPN and here on Newsline Nine.

Doogie's Dad, Darin says, "... so many people in central Wisconsin, northern Wisconsin and, throughout the country reach out to us after ESPN did the story, I couldn't believe how many people contacted him."

On the exact one year anniversary ESPN's story aired, Doogie received word, a donor was available.

Doogie says, "... my phone started ringing and I saw it was Mayo Clinic and I thought oh boy, and it was my transplant coordinator... I was like ok.. I started shaking I couldn't sit still, I was walking around the house."

Receiving an organ transplant is a bittersweet celebration, as you're elated your loved one gets to live, you mourn for donor and their family.

Julie says, "... to know that our son's life has been changed and saved... yet there's another person out there who's mother is not there anymore... and to just go through that feeling and the hurt for them.. that's why it's bittersweet."

When asked about his donor, Doogie says, "... I would just say thank you and would give them a big hug because it's the ultimate gift you can give somebody."

While the transplant completely transformed Doogie's life, challenges are still ahead.

Julie says, "... he faces new sets of medical needs that he'll have to do his whole life, but I think his quality of life is going to be so much better. I'm just excited for him, I'm excited for the person he can be and the things he can do with his life."

Tomorrow we'll hear from Doogie and his parents about their mission to spread awareness about organ donation, and why Thanksgiving has taken on a whole new meaning for their family.

Stay tuned on  for Doogie and his parent's extended interviews as well.

If you'd like to get in touch with the Weiks' family, Doogie has a Caring bridge web site.

Link to Doogie's story on ESPN last year: id=null

As my 20 year old cousin Bill waited for his double organ transplant this summer and Fall, and even after surgery, Doogie and his family have offered a great deal of support to my family. Their efforts to get the word out about organ donation, and their outpouring of thoughts and prayers, as they too waited on the transplant list, is something I'll never forget.

Doogie's story truly touches my heart, and it's a good reminder of how a positive attitude, and will to live, can mean the difference between life and death. To see an 18 year old face adversity head on, and work to get the word out about organ donation is inspirational. It's stories like his, that show the importance of being an organ donor.

To sign up to be a donor or to learn more:

Online Reporter: Natalie Sparacio


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