Giles County amputee gets support from community to make home handicap-accessible

Local News

GILES COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — A Giles County man, who some call the county’s most unique “transplant,” is getting a lot of help from his community after having his leg amputated.

Jon Wong came to Virginia in 2018 from his lifelong home in Hawaii.

He suffers from renal failure and requires dialysis. In Hawaii, his dialysis nurse for a time was Giles County native, Donna Wilburn. She’s now his girlfriend and convinced to come back home with her to the New River Valley.

“She dragged me,” Wong said, laughing. “She said ‘Come on. Let’s go,’ and I packed up. We sold whatever we could, and we left.”

Eventually, renal failure caught up with Wong. He later was diagnosed with diabetes, and circulatory problems led to Wong having his right leg amputated from the knee down.

Despite this, he’s looking at the glass as half full.

“I said ‘Hey. If it’s bad, cut it off. If it’s getting worse, I don’t want it to get up to my groin and to my heart,'” Wong said.

“We go from such a tragic thing to something so beautiful,” Wilburn said, marveling at her boyfriend’s positive outlook.

It may come with challenges, but Wilburn, who still works as a dialysis nurse, says the journey has been a “beautiful struggle” and that the road to Jon’s recovery is going to be taken one step at a time.

“One foot at a time,” Wilburn corrected, “because we ain’t got but one,” she laughed.

Right now, the couple lives in a two story rental in Pearisburg. One can imagine stairs being difficult for Wong. In fact, he doesn’t go up them at all; he sleeps on a twin mattress in the living room.

The couple has since bought a one-story home in Pembroke, but making any home handicap accessible doesn’t come cheaply. Friends of Jon and Donna wanted to help by holding an online auction.

“Jon’s a good guy; Donna’s a good girl,” said Tim Dalton, owner of Dalton Auction Company. “It’s just what you’re supposed to do.”

Dalton knows Wong and Wilburn from his auction company in Pembroke. The couple has been purchasing through Dalton Auction for the last year, and in a place like Giles County it’s not hard to become friends with strangers quickly.

Not only did Dalton and his staff waive the auction fees but also raised over $1,500 to help with home modifications for Wong and Wilburn.

“When I told Donna the total, she started to tear up, and it makes me want to tear up,” Dalton said. “It just means the world to know that you got good friends and good support anytime you need it.”

With some of the financial burden lifted, Wong can focus more on the end goal in his recovery.

“Get walking. Get out of this chair,” Wong said, confidently.

Wong and Wilburn are already looking at prosthetic designs for a new leg, but they are still in the healing process.

They move into their new house in Pembroke on Friday.

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