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Two transplants, multiple organs, his mission is bringing cheer to others

IU Health University Hospital

Two transplants, multiple organs, his mission is bringing cheer to others

At one point, he wasn’t expected to live, now this young man is focused on bringing joy to others.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

As he walked the hall of IU Health University Hospital, William Waldroup was assisted by physical therapist Eric Anderson and nurse Lydia Stone.

There was a time when Waldroup’s parents were told he wouldn’t walk at all. And now he’s not only walking the hospital halls; he’s walked across the stage to receive a diploma.

His family has adopted the phrase: “They said you wouldn’t; we thought you could. You showed them that you would.”

Waldroup with family dog

Waldroup was born a 23-week preemie, weighing 1lb 8oz ounces. He was given less than 10 percent chance of surviving. His twin lived eight days. Both boys were born with Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a life-threatening illness with a 50 percent mortality rate. NEC is an inflammation of the intestine that can damage the colon and intestine. He also had a hole in his stomach and kidney malfunction.

“He almost died on his first birthday. He had 22 pumps going at a time,” said his mother, Rustena Waldoup, New Palestine, Ind. William saw his second birthday and was diagnosed with Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and chronic lung disease. His mother and father, David, also learned William is profoundly deaf.

At the age of seven, William received his first transplant - an intestine and kidney. That was August 2009. “He did pretty well until he was diagnosed with liver disease,” said his mother. On Dec. 17, 2022, William received a second transplant - liver, pancreas, intestine, and stomach.

William with his doctor

He was in the transplant care of Dr. Richard Mangus and a team of clinicians at IU Health. Since December 2022, he has made multiple hospital visits - for pneumonia, a collapsed lung, and other complications. In all, he had six surgeries in two weeks. “Since December, he’s only been home five days,” said his mom.

Those hospital visits have connected William to nurses and other patients. They mention his name and smile. He’s been known to bring candy, lotion and other gifts to others on the floor.

“William is a people person. He loves visiting people at the hospital and considers the patients and nurses his friends,” said Rustena Waldroup. He turned 21 on June 22 and has been inviting everyone he meets to his party planned next month.

He is also an uncle. His older brother has two children. “William loves being an uncle. His niece is his pride and joy,” said his mom. He also loves music - especially “AC/DC” and “Imagine Dragons.”

William at graduation

When William graduated with a certificate of completion from Indiana School for the Deaf his family created a “thankful board,” expressing their gratitude to others. “We know he wouldn’t be here but for the grace of God working through his doctors and nurses,” said Rustena Waldoup.

“We say every day is a borrowed day,” said his mom. “We’ve had almost 21 years of borrowed time. We believe William is here to cheer others. He’s one of the most loving people you’ll meet. He’s personable and that draws people to him.”



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