Bill Ismer is a man transformed. Thirteen years ago, he lay in his hospital bed not knowing if he was going to live or die. Today, he is very much alive and a very different person.
"I feel it was a gift that was given to me that I need to share it and bring peace to the patients and the staff at the hospital," Bill explained as he carted his portable keyboard through Tampa General's cardiac intensive care unit.
Bill received a donor heart, and ever since then, he's had the urge to play piano. He had never touched a piano before, never read a note of music, and never was the man he is until now.
"I have a sense of peace about me that I never had before until the transplant," Bill said. "That I'm in a place where I should be."
Bill is a regular on the cardiac floor where he donates his time playing soft, meditative music at the nurses' station and for patients who invite him into their rooms.
How does he explain his transformation and sudden gift of music? Bill believes it's directly tied to his donated heart. He thinks his donor, whose identity remains anonymous, must have had musical talent and a benevolent soul.
Bill's music is soothing for Edith Fontanez, who closes her eyes and mediates. She is waiting for a donor heart.
"You hear that organ and everything. It's like a message you are going to be all right. Everything is going to be fine. So it really makes me feel good," Edith said as Bill continued to play.
There's a similar effect on the hospital's caregivers. Gwen Oliver is a nurse on the busy floor.
"Oh, I think it's wonderful. It's very soothing. It de-stresses the atmosphere," she said.
Bill is retired now after a career as a tough street cop. His tender touch on the keyboard and a heart for giving and sharing provides true contentment.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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