Bill Wiese, Recipient
Just Your Average, Everyday Miracle
Posted January 10, 2011
According to Bill Wiese, he’s just an “average” person who had a big problem. Although not a storyteller by trade, he has had many opportunities to tell lots of folks—family, friends, high school students, medical professionals and more—about the blessing he calls “a miracle” that remedied that big problem and allowed him to return to living his “average” life.
The lifesaving miracle in Bill’s life came in 1992 after a diagnosis of osteo-sarcoma in his right lower leg. His options to beat the cancer were limited to a below-the-knee amputation or a bone transplant. The gratitude he feels every day for that tissue donation is why Bill shares his story with individuals and groups alike, “I think I tell a pretty good story and send a good message,” he says.
And, ever since the St. Louis media caught up with him in 2002 in his role as an Olympic torch bearer, Bill has found a “whole new world of speaking opportunities.” The most moving of those experiences, however, was in 2003 as a speaker at the St. Louis area’s Donor Sabbath ceremony. The emotional impact of the ceremony, Bill says, likely will never be matched and definitely will never leave him. As he told his story as a tissue recipient, Bill spoke of the opportunities he’s been given that might never had occurred without his donor’s generous gift. He described the basic things including the ability to walk—previously taken for granted—that suddenly became a “wonderful experience.” But the “grandest milestone,” according to Bill, was walking his daughter Kelly down the aisle at her wedding.
Bill says the response of donor families afterward was overwhelming. “I felt that many of the donor families saw first-hand the results of a success story. It’s unfortunate that, in some cases, donor families have a misconception that it (tissue donation) is somehow less than an organ transplant. For the families of donors who may regret that their loved one could ‘only’ give tissue, when they heard me speak, they made me feel that I had made it worth it for their (loved one’s) donation,” Bill says.
But the “grandest milestone,” according to Bill, was walking his daughter Kelly down the aisle at her wedding.
Bill’s gratitude permeates every aspects of his “average” life as he speaks to groups, is able to accompany his granddaughter to Grant’s Farm and carries on with everyday life. He plans to continue telling his story about the miracle of tissue donation and says, “I enjoy it because I think something good comes of it. I can give back somehow, someway, by donating my time to tell my story. Tissue donation is every bit as important (as organ donation) to recipients and donors…there’s a real need for recognition,” Bill says.