WPLG Local10.com – More than two decades ago, William Cantres volunteered after the tragedy at the World Trade Center. He developed major lung and throat issues from the dust and has undergone a number of surgeries.
“I thought I was still a tough guy, but 9/11 humbled my whole life,” says Cantres who volunteered at Ground Zero. “You could see peoples belongings as they just got into work and they took their jackets off and they went to go get coffee.”
On Sept. 11, 2001, Cantres was working as an electrician in New York City.
He heard about the first plane hitting the twin towers and then says he watched with his own eyes as the second plane hit.
Willie, as his loved ones call him, says he immediately felt a pull to go help and rushed to Ground Zero, where he would spend the next 6 months working on the pile.
“I’ve been in and out of hospitals; I’ve lived more in a hospital than I have at home.”
“I went there to assist more hands on deck. Better chance of finding survivors.” After you did a couple of hours on the pile, you were soaking wet and you . . . we smelled like fire and smoke.”
But Cantres, like many others who inhaled the dust eventually developed major health issues and wasn’t able to continue working or living his life as he used to.
“He was requiring oxygen. He had a condition called ‘sarcoidosis.’ He ended up developing a more advanced type of sarcoidosis and that’s why he was in need of a lung transplant,” according to Dr. Tiago Machuca of Jackson Health.
Machuca is the director of the Lung Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. He began working with Cantres several years ago.
Finally, in July of 2022, Cantres received a double lung transplant and a glimmer of hope for returning to his normal life.
But then, another bad break … READ MORE.