PLANT CITY, Fla (WFLA) – Organ and tissue donations can be the difference between life and death for many people, and one Tampa Bay area couple says they wouldn’t be here without the donations of others.
Bill and Debbie Ismer fell in love 22 years ago when Bill was at Tampa General Hospital on death’s door.
Bill was facing serious heart issues and waited one year for a heart transplant. Before Debbie was his wife, she was his nurse.
“When I finally got the heart, the gift of life, I gave it away when my favorite nurse decided to marry me,” Bill shared.
Ten years after their romance began, Debbie would need a kidney transplant which she received from a fellow nurse.
“In my mid-fifties, my kidneys were failing, and I was looking to go on dialysis and at that time a friend of mine at the hospital that was also a nurse stepped up to the plate,” Debbie said.
The couple now works together to bring awareness to organ and tissue donations through volunteer work. During National Donate Life Month, the couple places signs in their yard showing their support for organ donors.
“It’s all about the donors, the donors, and their families who upheld the wishes of their family members to continue to be a donor…it’s the only reason I’m here,” Bill said.
The couple will celebrate 22 years of marriage together on April 21, thanks to those life-saving donations they each received.
“I am so grateful. Grateful to my lord and savior that has led us to this point where we’ve been able to not only survive but thrive,” Bill said.
Floridians can register their decision to donate at DonateLifeFlorida.org or when obtaining or renewing a driver’s license.