The Gift of Life


Billy Ruyle, Transplant Recipient

When Billy Ruyle could not sign his name at work or even grasp the pen, he realized he had a problem that was bigger than just a cold.

Billy grew up in a small town, just south of Springfield. After high school, Billy married “the most amazing wife” and together they had three boys and one girl and now have lots of grandkids. He worked as a full-time truck driver until just a few years ago when he took a part-time job hauling beans in Waverly.

“There is a lot of dust when you haul beans. At first, I thought I caught some sort of cold from the dust, and I just kept getting weaker and weaker,” he said. “I should have stopped working right then, but I didn’t because there was a job to finish.”

“When I got home later that day, I told my wife what had happened and we knew then something was seriously wrong.”

The following day, Billy was admitted to Memorial Medical Center and underwent a series of tests to determine the cause of his weakness. It turned out his immune system had failed. As a result, Billy’s kidneys were failing. He was put on dialysis as well as the organ transplant waiting list.

On Oct. 18, 2012, Billy received the gift of life at Memorial. Marc Garfinkel, MD, surgical director for Memorial Transplant Services and a physician with SIU HealthCare, performed the transplant.

“When an organ becomes available, a match list is run. Each recipient is evaluated on a number of factors including age, time on the waiting list, and closeness of an immunological match between the donor and recipient,” Dr. Garfinkel said.

For Billy, his new kidney has truly given him another opportunity to enjoy his life, especially his grandkids. To his kidney donor and family, Billy says, “I just want to say thank you. Thank you for this gift of life.”

More than 115,000 Americans are waiting for life-saving organ transplants, according to Gift of Hope, a not-for-profit organ procurement organization. Join Memorial Medical Center and Gift of Hope to celebrate National Donate Life Month and register or reaffirm your decision to become an organ and tissue donor.

You can be a part of this effort by visiting the Memorial’s Hospitals for Hope webpage and show your support for donation today.