UPDATE: Local man makes Rose Parade debut

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019
News 12 at 6/NBC at 7

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRWD/WAGT) -- A local man makes National TV today more than 4-years after a crash he almost didn't walk away from.

He was asked to ride the Donate Life Float at the Rose Parade in California today.

Bill Bourbeau suffered chemical burns from the crash and says tissue donations saved his life.

Before the parade, he told News 12 he's blessed.

“Thinking about why you're there and how fortunate you are, how blessed, how lucky I am to be on this float, experience this experience,” said Bill.

Bill and his wife hope his accident and this float show people how important being a tissue donor is. Bill's float is called the Rhythm of Life.

If you want to sign up to be an organ or tissue donor, click here. 

Monday, December 31, 2018
News 12 at 6/NBC at 7

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRWD/WAGT) -- It's unbelievable that someone could survive a crash this bad but one Graniteville veteran did thanks to multiple tissue transplants.

"My heart just sunk when he said, I've been in a really bad car accident," said Patti Bourbeau, the wife of Bill Bourbeau and the North Augusta SCDMV branch manager.

"I couldn't believe there was a truck lying on top of me," said Bill Bourbeau "When she saw my vehicle she was pretty certain that I had not survived that."

A close call leaves Bill Bourbeau thankful to be alive.

“I had been hit by a lady not paying attention and she had hit a trailer I was hauling and her truck landed on top of my vehicle,” said Bill.

It completely crushed Bill’s truck.

“All of a sudden the fluids from her engine and radiator and stuff began to pour out onto me,” said Bill.

People driving by snapped pictures of Bill climbing out of his window. Chemical burns left his back, shoulders and arms blistered, discolored, and in a lot of pain.

"From the top of my back, shoulder all the way to below my elbow, I had to have my skin removed and then new tissue put in," said Bill.

He needed a tissue donor.

“Everyday I'm blessed with the opportunity to register someone new as an organ donor," said Patti. “And to see that come full circle to my own family was just amazing to see.”

Patti and Bill are trying to get more people registered as donors.

“Just one person registering eventually can impact up to 75 lives," said Patti.

Her husband is living proof of the impact.

"Had I not had that tissue, who knows what would have happened," said Bill.

Bill now has a new life to enjoy with his family and will be honored at the Rose Parade on the Donate Life float.

Right now there are more than a 1,000 people on the transplant waiting list in South Carolina and more than 5,000 in Georgia.

If you want to learn more about tissue and organ donation, click here.