• Wills Porter

Taking Joy in the Journey Part 2: Life Changes and a New Dawn Rises

By: Wills Porter

Not as planned

While I was being prepared for surgery in pre-op my family notified our family friends back in Athens and out of state. To say that this was a major development would be an understatement. I was finally in pre-op and would soon undergo my much-awaited liver transplant. When the final preparations were complete, I was rolled in the operating room. Once there, I was hooked up to monitors and an IV line was started. The surgery started as expected. However, this medical procedure was not going to be an average day at the office for my doctors.

What started off as a regular transplant procedure quickly turned for the worst. In one instant I was alive and the next, I was lost on the table due to a cardiac arrest. For a few minutes, my life hung in the balance. I was not responding and thigs were not looking good. As every second passed, my brain lost more and more oxygen. The worst-case scenario had happened, I was lost on the table. Then, I was resuscitated. The procedure was called off and I left the OR still in an unknown condition. I was not showing many signs of being impacted by my medical trauma. However, my parents didn’t think something was right. After asking I be evaluated by neurology, I was evaluated and there was no real sign of imidate concern. However, when I was being handed back to my parents the unthinkable again happened. I had a seizure. When this happened, it became clear to everyone that I had suffered substantial neurological damage. I may never walk, talk, see or make facial expressions ever again… and I still needed a transplant! My life had changed in a way no one expected. I was not even three years old.

The Aftermath

After suffering my cardiac arrest and seizure., I left the hospital with a long road of recovery ahead. The hope was that I would eventually be considered healthy enough for a transplant, but no real timeline was made. It was more important that I make a recovery and it not be rushed. Recovery was slow but after months of intense rehabilitation, I was finally meeting my key milestones in recovery. While I made great strides, my vision was still not doing well. It probably never would. I would need to learn to read braille and walk with a cane. My life had changed, and it was time to accommodate as best as I could. The time had come to be evaluated by a specialist in Atlanta.

When I went to be evaluated, I went in not being able to see. I had sustained major neurological damage and it was evident internally and externally in that I had vision challenges. After I was evaluated, the individual doing the evaluation began to cry. Why was this person crying? Maybe they were new, and the pressure of the results were hard to come to terms with. Maybe it was a worse prognosis than expected. The conversation probably went something like this…


“Mr. and Mrs. Porter, I don’t know how to explain this, but your son can see.

My parents:



I have never seen this before. I probably never will be able to explain this. You son can see.

A New Dawn Rises

With my ability to see restored, the prognosis for getting a transplant all of a sudden got a lot better. Maybe with the advances I was making would make me well enough to be considered for transplant. For everything that was not known, what was known was that the 1990s were coming to an end and a new dawn was rising.

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