April 11, 2019
Today we are highlighting a community in action during our Community Spotlight episode. Bill Coon, Founder and Board President of the Keep Swimming Foundation, joins us to share the mission of the organization, progress to date, and lessons learned. His powerful message showcases the impact being made through their work and will inspire you in yours.
On April 24, 1989, Bill was born with Hypoplastic Left Ventricle Syndrome, a congenital birth defect. That night, he was flown by helicopter to a hospital in Chicago, Illinois, where his family was told the only cure would be an infant heart transplant. It was also explained that Bill had 21 days left to live, for if the doctors waited any longer than twenty-one days, the rest of his organs would begin to fail.
In the final hours of Bill’s twenty-first day, the phone rang with a donor offer from Ontario, Canada. That night, on May 16, 1989, Bill became the fourth infant heart transplant ever performed in the Midwest and the eighth in the nation.
Years passed, and he never suffered any complications. That was until June 8, 2009, when at the age of 20, Bill was rushed to the hospital where a team of doctors informed him that he was in both end-stage heart and kidney failure.
Bill later spent 70 days in the Intensive Care Unit of a Chicago hospital awaiting a double transplant and a second chance at life. Fortunately, and thanks to the generosity and selflessness of Bill’s second donor, his life was saved again on October 21, 2009.
Since returning home from the hospital in 2009, Bill has become an avid spokesperson for organ donation, as well as a motivational speaker. Bill also provides hope for his readers via direct email communication.
In 2017, Bill launched Keep Swimming Foundation. A nonprofit organization that aims to provide financial relief to the families of individuals facing long-term inpatient care.
Bill’s personal experience and ability to overcome obstacles has enabled him to share remarks before the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, The American Heart Association, and many other well-respected organizations.