Heart transplant recipient attends graduation from hospital bed

Joe Willis is graduating from Indiana University with his MBA, but this is no ordinary graduation. Willis has earned his master’s degree after undergoing a heart transplant.

Two years ago, heart disease led to Willis needing a transplant when he was just 21 years old. Recently, as Willis was completing his degree, complications put him in the hospital once again. But Willis wasn’t going to let that get in the way of what he’s worked so hard for.

“It’s been tremendously hard, unbelievably hard, but I found out people are very strong,” he told Fox 32 Chicago. “You’d be surprised what you can do when you just have to stay postive and keep going and everything will work out."

With his classwork completed, Indiana University’s Northwest School of Business agreed to bring the graduation ceremony to Willis, with the dean of the school even travelling from Indiana to Chicago to award Willis his diploma.

Willis fought through good times and bad to get his MBA. Now that he has it, he hopes to get a job in a hospital, maybe even working with a transplant team like the one that saved his life.