Natalie's cousin Bill reflects on what Christmas means to him after transplant surgery - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Natalie's cousin Bill reflects on what Christmas means to him after transplant surgery

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by Natalie Sparacio

WAKE UP WISCONSIN (WAOW)--  2009 was an emotional year for my family, I shared my cousin's heart-wrenching wait for the gift of life, and we celebrated his double organ transplant together.

Today, my cousin Bill talks about his new outlook on the meaning of Christmas.

Every Christmas and New Years it's incredible to think how much life has changed... since the year before.

For my 20 year old cousin Bill, he received his gifts a little early, in the form of a heart and a kidney.

This holiday, Bill and his family say gratitude sums up how they feel.

Ann Coon, Bill's mom says, "... I'm overwhelmed with it, gratitude to our donor, our friends, our family and to our community...we're here today because of prayers and because of support that was given to us all unselfishly and because of the gift Bill received."

It's been a whirlwind of a year, through the long wait for transplant, pain of countless tests and medications, and the excitement of his homecoming, it's all given him a new perspective this holiday season.

Bill says, "... it basically is just an opportunity for me to have a second chance at life and I'm just really enjoying everything that I'm seeing in a different light, everything just seems better and livelier.

So this Christmas, Bill has one wish, that his donor's family finds peace and comfort in the memory of their loved one who lives on through him, because of their decision do donate.

Bill says, "... I really don't need real gifts this Christmas, I want the donor family to be happy... I was thinking about it.. and everything seems pointless a DVD doesn't mean anything to me anymore... I just want them to be happy... my family to be happy and enjoy the holiday season."

As we bid farewell to 2009, Bill and my family would like to extend our gratitude once again... to everyone who's sent their get well wishes, thoughts and prayers Bill way.

Ann says, "God bless you, I don't even know you... but I feel as though we've become friends and family. I love you all for your unselfishness and how you never stopped believing.. you gave us strength through your faith... and I  do get emotional when I talk about it... it's truly a gift of life and a gift of love and we will never ever forget all of the people from the area Natalie."

Bill says, "... Central Wisconsin was amazingly supportive while I was sick.. and still to this day.. Immanuel Lutheran Elementary School is fantastic today... we're keeping that pen pal relationship going...but everyone else in Central Wisconsin was so good to me... and I thank you guys all for the cards the pictures, everything you guys sent to me was so supportive."

Your support gave my cousin the strength to fight and I'm forever grateful that I'll have the chance to share the holidays with him once again.

Bill plans to move to downtown Chicago on Sunday, and he'll continue his junior year at Columbia University in January.

He plans to make a special visit to Central Wisconsin in February, and we'll have him live on Wake Up Wisconsin.

Here's a Christmas Wish from Bill and his family:

Dear Family and Friends,

Each year we try to find a Christmas message that conveys the essence of our family experience from the last year. When the kids were young, our focus was on anticipation. When the kids started maturing and going off to college, our focus was on togetherness and the unity of family. This year, having dealt with the uncertainty of the continuation of our family as we have known it and having survived the anguish of a critically ill child, we can not help but to focus on "gratitude".

 Throughout our journey over the last several months, our family has been embraced by family, friends, and community. The love and support offered consistently and unselfishly empowered us to endure the most difficult and overwhelming challenge of our lives. Through your prayers, we were enabled to hold together, stay strong, and focused. Through your love, we were able to envision a brighter, more hopeful tomorrow. Through your faith, we were able to let go of our fears and believe that we would prevail as a family, together and whole.

 As we continue to heal as a family, we are overwhelmed by our sense of gratitude. Gratitude to our donor and our donor family. Gratitude to our community for embracing us in our time of need. Gratitude to our friends for holding us together, while always lending a helping hand. And gratitude to our family for being there to catch us when we fell.

 The gratitude we feel truly overwhelms us and serves as a constant reminder of the priceless gift of life and gift of love that we have been so blessed with.

 It is our hope, our prayer, that this holiday season affords you and your family the time and peace to gather and embrace your sense of gratitude for the sanctity of your family – the love, the traditions, the foundation and the faith that only family can instill and nurture. It is our hope, that you are well and together.

As always, we wish you and your family good health, joy, and peace throughout this holiday and the New Year. May God continue to be with us all – in our hearts, in our minds, and in our lives – may we all be kept in His loving care and may you find peace and satisfaction in knowing how grateful we are for having you in our lives and for what you have meant to our family.

With our heartfelt wishes and gratitude,

Ann and Bill

Carissa, Bill Gus, and

Max and Joy

Online Reporter: Natalie Sparacio

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