A Virginia family are appealing for help following the sudden ill-health of their teenage son.
Just before Christmas, 16-year-old Juan Mikel-Jones began to feel very unwell. “Very weak, short of breath, Very dizzy. Loss of appetite. I couldn’t focus really,” he said. His Dad assumed the youngster had cold or flu, and neither thought much of it.
But Jones developed horrific pain, and the young man had to go to hospital for tests. It was then that the doctors revealed his terrifying diagnosis – cardiomyopathy, dangerous enlarging of the heart. After Christmas, Jones was told that he would require a heart transplant.
“It was very severe,” said Dr. Thomas L’Ecuyer, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Virginia’s Medical Center, as reported by Newsplex. “The amount of support he was requiring was a great deal. In fact, he was not able to be managed with medical support alone. We needed to provide device support for his circulation. And that’s actually the reason why he came here because we thought he needed that support.”
“I want a holy heart for my son,” said Woody Jones, the boy’s father. “Because at the end of the day that’s what makes a difference. Praying and having a holy heart for him.”
After days of fervent prayer and petition, incredibly, they found a match! Woody described the stunning moment of relief and joy.
“The staff came in, and they were like, ‘we got some news for you guys,'” he said. “I was like what happened now? Good gracious, we can’t get a break. So they came in there and the nurses and doctors said, ‘guess what, Juan? You’re getting a heart.’ That’s a touchy subject. We broke down and cried.”
But the family still required funds to complete the surgery. They turned to their community, and the support was absolutely staggering.
“Our whole local community is the perfect area to support something like this,” said the New Kent High School Principal Christopher Valdrighi. “I can’t think of a better reason to support somebody than what he’s going through.”
“I’ve never seen him not smile, or heard him say a bad word about another person.” said Principal Valdrighi of Jones.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help support the family financially.
“Juan who is a Honor Roll Student and talented football player at New Kent High, was recently diagnosed with Viral Cardiomyopathy at CHKD and transferred via helicopter to UVA in need of a heart transplant. His father, Woody is single dad of three and the sole provider of his eldest son Juan after tragically losing his wife to complications associated with Lupus when Juan was very young,” it reads.
“The two have an undeniable bond and have held each other together over many difficult years. They came to Virginia in 2005 following the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Woody has worked in registration at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Room since his arrival to the area.”
“The medical bills associated with Juan’s care and other expenses are going to be understandibly extensive. Woody should be able to stand by his son through this and not worry about missing income and mounting bills. Woody and Juan are devout Christians and in need of our prayers and help while the two battle this latest hurdle in life together. Please help in any way you can.”
Over $7,000 has been raised so far, and Juan is expected to make a full recovery following the transplant surgery, which is reported to have gone well.
“Woody, we are praying for your son and family. God is a healer!” one person commented on the campaign page. “Woody, you and Juan are in my thoughts. Wishing nothing but the best for your family,” another added.
“It really touches me, or any other parent, it would really hurt them knowing that your son needs a heart and you have to wait on someone else to be deceased to get a heart,” said Woody. “The reason I’m thanking the family for saving my son’s life is so that he will actually be able to show good on this planet before he actually had to leave.”
“There are a lot of bumps, speed bumps I think ahead of us,” said Dr. L’Ecuyer. “Each day is a painful day for him. I can just say he’s making very nice progress and I’m very optimistic that we are going to have a great outcome.”