Reflections on the Journey: Dare to be Different

By: Wills Porter

I ran into a friend the other day and he was like..

Mam, I see you doing good.

I see you doing well.

But I am seeing you now and I didn’t know you then.

As your friend I wonder..

How was it way back when?

I will never know, so I just have to ask..

How did you do it?

You were almost blind.

Now you see.

You were almost dead.

Now you are alive and free.

How can this be?

This was my response.

Starting out, it was all well.

Then, my health started to fail.

What was wrong?

No one knew.

My parents had to wonder..

what is all this for?

In the darkness of night..

there was no light.

All I could do was fight.

The end was nowhere in sight.

But there was Atlanta.

Here there was hope.

Here there was a chance…

that answers would abound.

Would a cure be found?

After test one and two, no one knew.

After test three and four, it was clear..

we needed to do more.

So, it was off to Ohio.

Here they said it was bile flow.

After a few weeks we had to go.

Back in the ATL the answer was clear.

This was the biggest fear.

I was in organ failure!

Wait.. wait.

Now wait some more.

My Parents had to think..

What’s the suffering for?

Why me?

When will we be free?

Free from the hospital.

Free from this nightmare.

Free to leave.

Free to live.


To not survive, but thrive.

After waiting some tine..

It was my chance to shine.

Finally a liver would be mine.

At the hospital the doctors got me ready to go.

Would this really be it?

My parents and doctors  didn’t know.

Either way..

it was my time for me to go.

In the OR it all started well..

It was finally my time!

But inside everything wasn’t fine.

In an instant everything fell.

Heart rate…


Oxygen levels…


This was not a test.

This was a Cardiac arrest.

In an instant. time ceased.

Surely, I’d soon be deceased.

Surely the fix was in.

By all accounts…

dead is what I should have been.

It just wasn’t my time.

But I still wasn’t fine.

Then came the seizure.

What was going on?

No one knew and answers weren’t in view.

Then the MRI was clear.

This was surely the greatest fear.

Wills, you may not walk.

Wills, you may not talk.

Wills, you may never see.

Was this how  it was going to be?

Was this the future meant for me?

After the cardiac arrest I had a long way to go.

Would I get a transplant?

My family didn’t know.

But there in the darkness of night…

When there was no light…

When I was down and out of the fight…

something was on the rise.

One day all would know and see..

that an overcomer is what I was made to be.

Fast forward 10 years and I was like a different kid.

When I said Philmont my doctors said yes.

However, I had to plan in a different way.

I wouldn’t be told no.

No matter what, I would go.

Then the moment of truth came.

As I sat on the plane I knew I was made for this.

I was made to push the limits.

I was made to push what was possible.

It was time for me to prove the doubters wrong.

It was time for them to see the fighter in me.

Fourteen days later the verdict was in.

After 100 plus miles…

After a 13 thousand foot mountain…

I had reached new heights.

I guess you could say I had leveled up.

That week I learned nothing could hold me down.

After Philmont a new version of me came to be.

When I got back home I  was marching to my own beat.

I was now in the driver’s seat.

My friend, you ask how I did it.

The truth is, I didn’t have a choice.

For a long time I listened to the voice.

The voice said I’d never be enough.

The voice said I’d never measure up.

Then, I listened to the Voice of Truth.

I chose to be a victor.

I found purpose in the pain.

I learned to stand in the rain.

No matter what, I would survive the game.

My friend, here’s the truth…

I know my life didn’t have a good start.

Yet, there’s peace in my heart.

To my past, I wouldn’t change a thing.

                The truth is…

Trophies don’t go to the ones who had a good beginning.

                 The truth is…

Transplant kids were made for one thing…


                The truth is..

            This is a real fight.  

A fight between dark and light.

A fight between death and life.

Make no mistake, I have been through Hell.

I’ve walked in the darkness and stared Death in the face.

I know this is a long race and the war has just begun.

But like the sun, I know I will rise and shine.

I know victory will one day be mine.

Until then…

I will do what I was made to do and   I will be who I was made to be..

in hopes that other transplant kids may one day know and see…

that they are valued for who they are.

That they are not defined by a scar.

That they are meant to be more than a carbon copy of mediocrity.

That they will drown out the static of this plastic world.

That they will refuse to buy the lies that say they won’t be enough or that they won’t measure up.

That through it all they stand up and stand out.

How did I do it?..

I don’t have a clue.

All I know is that I couldn’t have done it without you.

You challenged me to never be a victim.

You dared me to go against the norm.

You helped me stand in the storm.

Simply put…

You dared me to be different.


different is what I intended to be.


Published by Wills Porter

Having been a transplant recipient of over 20 years, Wills is a living example of the life-transforming power of organ donation and transplant. While life after transplant has not always been easy, Wills believes that the challenges he has faced since his transplant have made him stronger and helped him take joy in his own transplant journey. As a KT author, podcast host and the director of research and development for Kidney Trails, Wills is focused on advancing the conversation around organ donation through innovative and extra organary ways.

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