Local doctor and double lung transplant recipient shares his sto - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Local doctor and double lung transplant recipient shares his story

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HERRIN -- April is National Donate Life Month, a month to celebrate the generosity of those who saved lives by becoming an organ donor.

Dr. William Hays, a family practice physician in Herrin, is a double lung transplant recipient. He told News 3 how new lungs from a woman in Kansas City saved his life.

"In 2008, I became quite ill with a disease called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis," Dr. Hays said.

That's when his life took a turn.

"With this disease, you have about two years to live unless you get a transplant," Dr. Hays said.

Dr. Hays' biggest fear was leaving his wife and children. He was diagnosed the same year his oldest daughter passed away due to breast cancer.

"I can remember sitting on the bed getting ready to be taken upstairs to the transplant and my wife coming in and kissing me and hugging me and saying I hope this is not the last time we ever see you," Dr. Hays said.

Thankfully, it wasn't their last time seeing him.

"The gift of life is a wonderful thing," Dr. Hays said. "The nice thing about being a transplant donor is you are helping someone live."

And now, more people in the state can sign up due to a new Illinois law that allows 16 and 17-year-olds to join the organ donor registry.

Dr. Hays said it's important to know what you're getting yourself into before signing up.

"You just got to educate the patient as to what the consequences of doing it are but at the same time, if they understand the consequences and they have the desire to do so, then I think it's great," Dr. Hays said.

Because without those donors, folks like Dr. Hays would not be here today.

"It is a gift of life," Dr. Hays said.

Click here for more information on how to register to become a donor.

Survivors in the southern Illinois area also formed a support group for lung transplant recipients. They meet about twice a year. If you're interested in learning more, you can call Dr. Hays' office at 618.997.4444 and ask for information on how to get involved.

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