Reflections on the Journey: Speak Life

By: Wills Porter

We all hold a double-edged sword

There is something profound about the spoken word. In a way I think that the spoken word is the most profound aspect of the human experience. In one way we can speak life. We can encourage. We can bring hope. In another way we can speak hate. We can bully. We can tear apart dreams and people’s since of worth. This is why I believe that the spoken word is a double-edged sword. And get this… we all hold this sword.

In my life many people have spoken life into me. To start, there’s my pediatrician and transplant team. When I was an infant and couldn’t get well, they worked hard to help my family find answers. When I was first referred to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, not a lot was known about my medical situation. However, after many tests, an open liver biopsy and a trip to Ohio, my team at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta determined I needed a liver transplant.

Life Changes

Fast forward a few years and some calls for transplant that didn’t work out and my tine to get a new liver had come. After the hour-long drive to Atlanta I was worked up for surgery. This, my family and doctors hoped would be my second chance.. a life change for the good. However, what was about to happen would be life changing in am entirely different way. The operation started off good but in an instant things took a turn for the worst and I experienced a cardiac arrest. As time went by I lost more and more oxygen. I was ultimately revived and the surgery was called off. It wasn’t until I experienced a subsequent seizure that my family and doctors realized what had happened. The neurological damage was so large that my parents were told I may never walk. talk, see or make facial expressions ever again. I wasn’t even three. My parents had to wonder who I would one day be. Even through this medical trauma, my doctors spoke life into me. My family and family friends also spoke life into me. When it was all going wrong they could have turned their back, they could have hung it up and quit. Instead they turned to face the darkness and spoke life. It would one day pay off but in the moment no one could really see how all this would end. 

After many hours of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy I was making incredible strides in recovery. There was just one thing that wasn’t coming back. my vision. I would ultimately need to learn to read braille and walk with a cane. My parents decided to go ahead and get me seen for an evaluation. So, this is how it was going to be. I was alive but it was time I adapt and overcome. After the evaluation my parents braced for the news.

Your son can see. These four words changed everything. These words definitely spoke life. Could this really be? How? Everyone saw I was lost on the table. What about the cardiac arrest and seizure? Nope. I had come through once again. This changed everything. Surely the call for transplant was near. It took some time but on December 31,1999 that call came. Was this really going to happen on New Year’s Eve? Surely this was my time and on January 1st, 2000, I woke up with a new liver in a new millennium.

Fresh perspectives

Since receiving my second chance I have faced many challenges. As a child, many of the challenges I experienced revolved around staying healthy while also having a weakened immune system. More so than any medical challenge I experienced, the greatest challenge I experienced was adjusting to life outside the hospital. Being a transplant recipient of 23 years, I know that this challenge is not exclusive to my transplant journey. However, when I was younger, I didn’t know everything I know now. As a high school student, I didn’t have a purpose and I didn’t have a vision. Then the summer between my sophomore and junior year happened. It was durring this time that I had a camp counselor named Edward. Durring that week of camp, Edward spoke life into me. More importantly, Edward changed my life. Edward challenged me to use my past challenges as a platform to make a difference. After that week of camp ended, I left camp with a fresh perspective on my life and my life purpose. Thanks to Edward, I went from asking why me to why not me? No longer was I angry at my life circumstances. Instead, I was thankful for the fires of life because they were refining me into the person I was made to be. Ever Since meeting Edward all those years ago, I have taken many steps to become who I was made to be. While taking these steps has not been easy, I have taken these steps knowing I have people in my life to speak life into me. Even in the darkest of times, I have people in my life who speak life into me when I need it most.

The spoken word is a double-edged sword that we will either use to build up or tear down. How will you use the sword?

Will you speak life?

At the beginning of this blog, I said that the spoken word is like a double-edged sword. In one way we can encourage and bring hope. At the same time, we can also bully, speak hate, and destroy other’s sense of self-worth. With this in mind, I want to conclude this blog by challenging you with three questions. First, who has spoken life into you when you needed it most? Maybe it is a coach, a teacher, a friend, or a mentor. Secondly, I want you to consider who is currently speaking life into you. Consider who you surround yourself with and who you let speak into your life. Finally comes the most important question. Who are you currently speaking life into?

The way I see it, life isn’t about the amount of money you make, the career you have or the awards and honors you have obtained. Instead, life is about making the most of your position in life to impact others for good. I wish I had time to tell the stories of those I have spoken life into and the incredible things these people have done. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to do that. So., I guess you will have to find out for yourself exactly what can happen when you choose to speak life.

Who has spoken life into you?

Who is currently speaking life into you ?

Who can you speak life to?


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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