Long before the pandemic began its relentless journey around the globe, Juan Jones of New Kent, Va. - now just 18 years old - had already experienced the emotional havoc and physical suffering that a major health crisis could bring. When he was only four, he saw his mother struck down by lupus. Then, years later in high school, he experienced life-threatening illness firsthand. As a dedicated student and a multi-sport athlete in his junior year, he began exhibiting alarming symptoms soon after he started his wrestling season. His relentless cough and shortness of breath were first diagnosed as pneumonia. But his health quickly worsened despite antibiotics, and after an X-ray revealed his heart hugely swollen, Juan's father Woody rushed him to Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center in Williamsburg, Va. There doctors diagnosed Juan with viral cardiomyopathy, and his condition deteriorated rapidly, threatening heart failure. He was rushed to pediatric cardiologists at the UVA Children's in Charlottesville, Va. - home to the state's only pediatric heart transplant program. Doctors soon determined that only a heart transplant could save Juan, and the odds looked grim as he began an agonizing wait for an organ hard to come by. Juan's documentary, "Why Not Me?", tells the dramatic story leading to the new heart he received and portrays his triumphant return to health, school, and sports. Well-known for the deep Christian faith that he readily shares with those around him, Juan believes God carried him through his illness, and he now wishes to inspire others by sharing his story. And with a portion of the proceeds from sales of his documentary, he wishes to donate to the Lupus Foundation, in memory of his mother, and to honor and benefit the doctors at CHKD and UVA Children's, who helped save his life.
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