BROOKSVILLE, Fla (WFLA) – On Thursday the Hernando High School class of 2016 held a graduation rehearsal. The students are walking across the stage and into a brand new future.
But for 19-year-old William “Billy” Patterson, it’s his past that makes this day so special.
At just two and half months, Billy was the 10th child to receive a heart transplant at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
The transplant program was only a few years old at the time.
Everyone was scared, including Billy’s big sister, who was just shy of 3 years old at the time.
“We never thought that he would be able to talk or anything. We didn’t know how he was going to be when he was born,” Monalisa Patterson said.
In fact, Billy didn’t even learn to read until he was 12 years old.
It’s been an uphill battle. He missed a lot of school days because his immune system was suppressed by the anti-rejection drugs he had to take after the transplant.
But nothing stopped him and, come Saturday, he will proudly join his fellow classmates on stage.
Billy told News Channel 8’s Rod Carter how it felt to graduate. “Great,” he said.
And it’s not just great for him.
His sister, Monalisa, will walk with him across that stage.
“I know he’s bigger than me now, but he’s always been my little buddy, my little brother, and just seeing him graduate is going to be really special to all of us,” she said.
Graduation is Saturday June 4 at 3 p.m. at the Grace World Outreach Church in Brooksville.
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