• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Facing death and fighting back

November 11, 2018

When doctors said there was nothing they could do for his end-stage liver disease, Danny Willis refused to give up. He obtained a lifesaving transplant at Mayo Clinic. And even a near-fatal setback after that couldn't stop him from reclaiming his health.Danny Willis isn't a big fan of superheroes, yet the former Mayo Clinic patient boasts a large Superman tattoo on his neck. The tattoo represents a death-defying fight Danny waged for years and ultimately won. He not only survived severe liver failure by undergoing a liver transplant at Mayo Clinic, but he also overcame mucormycosis, a deadly fungal disease that cost him part of his lung, kidney, leg and shoulder.

Danny committed to getting the tattoo just months before coming to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. While hospitalized near his home in Owensboro, Kentucky, and facing a grim prediction that he likely wouldn't survive the night, Danny made a promise to his distraught best friend.

"It took everything I could to say to him that I'm going to make it through this," Danny says. He also told his friend, "And after I get through it, I'm going to get Superman tattooed on my neck."

When Danny regained his health, he debated the body art. "I wanted to be a minister, and I was like, 'Should I get a neck tattoo?' I said I was going to, but I didn't know. And I asked for a sign."

The next day, the owner of a local tattoo studio called him. The owner had heard about Danny's pledge to his friend, and he offered to ink Danny for free.

"Now people come up and ask me all the time, 'Why would you get a Superman tattoo?'" says Danny, who is pursuing that career in the ministry. "And I get to tell them my story." Read the rest of Danny's story.

This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.