New year, new lease on life for heart transplant patient

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A new year brings a new lease on life for a man from Pairs, Illinois.

52-year-old Bill Kammer received a heart transplant on Christmas Eve and he will leave the hospital for the first time in two month’s tonight.

It’s been a long road, but Kammer says he won’t waste a minute to pay the good deed forward–a deed that has given him a second chance.

Doctors and nurses inside Northwestern Memorial Hospital know not every story here has a happy ending but they say Kammer brightened all of their holidays. The carpenter entered the building on October 28th, spent three holidays and a birthday there waiting patiently for a new heart. Cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure left him no choice.

In that time, scavenger hunts, decorating the nurses’ station  and frequent trips to the coffee shop kept him busy.

Until December 23rd when he got the call.

At 1a.m. on Christmas Eve, Kammer went into surgery. He woke up the next day.

“My first memory was my sister over me saying ‘Merry Christmas,’” he said “I realized I was still alive.”

The father of four is grateful for the toughest and the best year of his life, he says.  He now exits as a new man with a new heart and a new lease on life. He was given a Christmas gift like no other.

“There’s a reason God did this for me,” he says. “I will pay it forward.  I’m going to remember it forever.”