- April 7, 2016
- Lyons P&O
Visit Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, meander your way through the beautiful paths to the Butterfly Garden and you will find a very special volunteer, Mr. Bill Mclean. Bill volunteers his time and energy to Brookgreen Garden because he loves learning new things and really enjoys meeting new people and sharing everything he has learned. Even with some significant challenges he shows up 4 days a week to give his time to the people and to this beautiful place.
One morning I met him at Brookgreen and found a shady spot to sit and talk a little about his life. He was constantly greeting people and sharing a smile. He retired from the DOD in 2004, where he served as a civilian communications specialist. Prior to that he worked at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. with their computer systems. He also served our country in the US Navy as an Electronic War Technician.
Mr. Mclean suffered as a young man from diabetes which caused several related health issues. In 1990 he had his first amputation of his large toe on his right foot, then in 1997 he had his little toe removed on the right side as well because of gangrene.
Then in 1999 he started feeling poorly and went to his doctor and heard the devastating news that his kidneys were failing and was put on dialysis within the week. This began a series of events that would change his life forever. In 2001 Patricia Martin, his loving sister, decided to donate her kidney to him but they were not a match. She gave her kidney anyway to the Kidney Foundation which then allowed Bill to move to the top of the transplant list for a kidney that would match his. This was the start of a series of amazing blessings in his life.
On July 31, 2001 Bill received a kidney from a young person who died in an accident at 19 years old. This was very humbling for Mr. Mclean to realize the young life that was over and the gift of life he received. He was incredibly grateful for the opportunity. Later he was placed on the transplant list for a pancreas which he received later, again from a young person, age 28 who died in an accident.
Transplants can be difficult and the pancreas proved to be a challenge. After 6 months the pancreas failed and almost immediately a gangrene infection set into his left leg. In July 2002 he had his left leg removed below the knee. He was very reluctant to have the amputation but knew that this was the only hope of saving his life. This was a difficult time but, Mr. Mclean was determined to live and thrive as so many had given so much in an effort to help and sustain his life.
He started rehabilitation immediately following surgery and was determined to progress quickly and get home. In the midst of all this turmoil and pain he and his sister decided they would plan a trip to Hawaii to take a cruise. After a difficult battle back he did indeed take that cruise in 2003 with Patricia and her husband John. This trip was a celebration of life, a time for incredible gratitude and living life as fully as possible. After facing certain death and being given so much he had so much to celebrate and be grateful for.
Bill and his sister and her husband decided they wanted to retire in the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina area. This proved to be a really great decision for so many reasons, one of which was meeting Alexander Lyons C.P.O., clinician and owner of Lyons Prosthetics & Orthotics, Inc., Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He met with Alex about 4 years ago. Mr. Mclean said “I like him a lot because he seemed interested in me, and what I was going through. His office is always light and airy and peaceful and his staff is wonderful.”
I thought this was really interesting because, although Alex does phenomenal prosthetic and orthotics work and is known for his creative innovations, his first comments about him were character based. He stated, “I think that the fact that he is a Christian man makes him more sensitive to me. I am always able to see Alex when I need to, and he is always concerned about me as a person.”
I asked him what else he liked about Alex he simply stated, “I believed from the first time I met Alex that he was 100% committed to my care and would do whatever he could to help me improve my quality of life. It is because of Alex that I have the Orthotics Brace on my right foot as well, and it has made all the difference in my mobility, Alex is amazing at his craft and keeps his commitments”. I thought, what better advertising could Alex Lyons ever have than patients like Mr. Mclean. Finally he said of Alex “I feel a Christian brotherhood with Alex. I am blessed that he keeps the bible at his office, I enjoy reading it while I am there. I am comforted knowing Alex is a Christian and puts God first”.
As our time was drawing to a close, I asked Mr. Mclean how these events have changed his life. He said “My faith in God as grown as a result. This adversity has drawn me closer to God and I am strengthened by him. I have learned patience and compassion in a way that I never would have if I had not faced certain death and been blessed with the amazing gifts that have been given. I know my life has purpose and I am determined to live fully. I was once a very quiet introverted man, now I realize that people are precious and life is priceless. I want to be a blessing to others as much as I have been blessed.”
Chris Koppel ckphotography