Teen heart patient thankful for Riley doctors - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Teen heart patient thankful for Riley doctors

Updated:
TJ Wood underwent life-saving heart surgery when he was just six days old. TJ Wood underwent life-saving heart surgery when he was just six days old.
Now 17, Wood was recently honored at an Indianapolis Colts game. Now 17, Wood was recently honored at an Indianapolis Colts game.
INDIANAPOLIS -

Riley Hospital for Children has spent 85 years caring for Indiana's children.

The hospital and its regional clinics perform more than 350,000 treatments a year. The exceptional care, given to the sickest of children, couldn't happen without generous donations.

For the family of 17-year-old JT Wood, it's still emotional to look back at the pictures of their son as a newborn in Riley Hospital. Something he was far too young to remember.

"I feel like my story is just so small compared to some of these stories, where they had procedures and stuff two years ago. I was a baby, I didn't even remember some of the stuff I went through and these people have gone through so much recently," Wood said.

JT is talking about all of the children who have ever needed care at Riley Hospital - most who made it, many who did not. He was born with a pinched aortic valve and had to undergo life-saving surgery at Riley when he was just six days old.

"Very difficult to watch, even in the waiting rooms in the hospital, seeing two- and three- and four-year olds that should be able to run and play," said Wood's mother, Amanda.

Amanda Wood says she knew right away her family was in the right place for JT's care.

"When we went to Riley and knew what was wrong, the doctor that sat down with us and drew it out, specifically drew a picture of the heart," she said.

A picture they still have as part of their good memories at Riley. Over the years, the family has been a constant supporter of Riley, raising money through neighborhood Oscar parties, or collecting items for the NICU families.

This year, JT is a Riley Champion, representing the hospital's care at events all over the city, including a tribute at the Colts game.

JT, the boy born with a bad heart, has found his place in life. On stage, one of his favorite characters is the Tin Man. The biggest difference for him is not a wizard, but the Riley doctors and nurses he has to thank for his now-healthy heart.

"They gave JT his life, literally, they gave him life. If it hadn't been for Riley, it's very possible he wouldn't be here," said Wood's father, Steve.

JT's aortic stenosis means he may need future heart surgery, but the 17-year-old is now able to play soccer and perform on stage. He is busy right now trying to decide which college to attend next year after graduation.

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