Thursday, November 3, 2016

This was an article I wrote back in 2013 for Carolina Donor Services newsletter.

Coming Full Circle: A Transplant Coordinator Becomes a Donor Sister
It was January 27th 2012, only about an hour after heroic measures were ceased and we said goodbye, that I found myself sitting in my office with my husband beside me talking on the phone about donation. This wasn’t supposed to be much anger and grief pulsing through my veins. I’m a lung transplant coordinator. I’m the one who calls people at any hour of the day or night to tell them there is a possible donor for them. I’m the one who calls that person back hours later to tell them if it’s a “go” or a “no go”. I’m the one who calls the operating room and communicates the fact that someone is about to receive the gift of life. But at that moment in time, I was not that person. I was not the hospital employee. I was the sister who had just unexpectedly lost her only sibling.

Will had just turned 30 years old. It was an extra special birthday and not because of the 30 year milestone. It was extra special because Will was alive. Rewinding to Mother’s Day 2009, I could not have told you if Will would ever see his 30th birthday. That day in May, our family’s world was turned upside down by tragedy.

It was 6pm and I called Will to see if he had gotten a Mother’s Day card for our mom and to see if he was headed home to have dinner with our folks. A strange voice answered his cell phone. It was a police officer who informed me that Will had just crashed his motorcycle and was being airlifted to a major medical center in Boston. I remember the officer asking how he could get a hold of my parents. I gave him their phone number, hung up with him, and in a sheer panic I frantically dialed my folks to break the news to them before a strange person would have to. Will’s injuries included a moderate brain bleed and a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the nipple line down. It was terrifying to see him laying there in the bed on the ventilator wondering if and when he would wake up. The day he did wake up on the ventilator and showed us that his brain was going to be ok was a big relief, but there we were, facing the reality of his paralysis. Will went on to complete months of intensive therapy and learn how to live life as a paraplegic. After completing rehab, he came to live with me and my husband in NC. We all adjusted to his “new life” and watched him pursue many endeavors. He did not let his paralysis get in the way of his life. Before his accident he was an avid snowboarder and a very physically active and fit young man. In the two years following his crash, we watched him mono-ski, tandem surf, and get involved in competitive kayaking and sled hockey. He was a role model and an inspiration to everyone whose lives he touched, including me. He truly loved life.

Now, fast-forward to January 27th, 2012. To unexpectedly lose him after such a tragic accident was, and continues to be, heartbreaking. Will had some genetic clotting disorders which predisposed him to forming blood clots. He was admitted to the hospital on January 26th and went into sudden cardiac arrest 24 hours later as a result of a pulmonary embolism. I continue to struggle with the fact he is gone, but I do find comfort in the countless memories we shared together. I also take great comfort in the fact that he was able to help others even after his death. Will was truly a kindhearted soul, and it was his wish to be a donor. The following is an excerpt from his obituary, “He will be remembered by his friendly nature and contagious smile. His willingness to help others was a testament to just how kindhearted he was.”
Written by:
Emily Johnson, Donor Sister 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Endicott Scholarship


Come out and support Endicott College, Will's alma mater, and the scholarship fund in Will's name.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gift of sight

Today I opened the mailbox and found a letter from The North Carolina Eye Bank. Will was able to provide the gift of sight to a person in need. Because Will suffered cardiac arrest he was unable to donate any solid organs, but was able to be a tissue donor (this includes corneas, skin, bone, and parts of major blood vessels) Here is a link to the NC Eye Bank and to Carolina Donor Services

Will made the choice to be a donor and it is a choice like this that embodies his spirit. Please consider being an organ donor if you aren't already. There are so many people out there waiting for the gift of life and sight and you may be able to help change their life.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A celebration of Will's life will be held on Saturday, April 7th from 2-5 pm at the Chatham VFW on George Ryder Rd. in West Chatham, MA.

Below is a link to a video that was done by Will's fellow Endicott alum, Matt Forcier, after his accident. It is a true testament to the kind of person Will was....

Here is also a link to his obituary:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Too soon ...

It is extremely difficult to write this, not for loss of words, but only because a very special person who meant so much to so many people was taken from this earth much too soon. Will passed away around 5 am on Friday January 27th 2012. He had a PE (blood clot) that caused him to go into cardiac arrest. He was admitted to Duke on Thursday after having chest pain at home earlier that morning. I had left him that night at around 8:30 pm and he had been doing ok, but became unstable about 5 hours later and was transferred to the ICU. Ty and I sped into the hospital and were able to be present while they tried to save him. I want everyone to know how good he looked. Will was such a handsome guy (and had the best hair out of everyone in our family)! Even amongst the lifesaving measures and equipment he looked peaceful.

Our family is absolutely devastated. We also know his friends are grieving this great loss.

In lieu of flowers we are asking that people make a donation in Will's memory to the NTAF. The homepage is Here is the link to Will's page:

My parents are here in NC and we do not know when they will return to the Cape. We are talking about having a celebration of Will's life in early March up in Chatham. He will be cremated and we will sprinkle his ashes at one of the beaches in Chatham.

Will was an inspiration to us all. He will always be a hero to me. While he encountered many challenges in life, the most recent being his spinal cord injury, he persevered and went on to get involved in kayaking, sled hockey, and mono-skiing. He didn't let anything hold him back. He had an infectious smile and a kind heart.

Will Archibald, you are so very loved and will be sorely missed. We all have such special, comforting memories of our time together and will cherish those forever. We love you as far as the eyes can see when looking out over the ocean........

Sunday, March 20, 2011