In fall 2019, Jaquez started out his senior year of high school with the intention of playing football, basketball and baseball, celebrating at prom in the spring and graduating with his classmates. But by October, he started missing school due to a persistent cough that medication couldn’t help.
In January 2020, Jaquez visited Lurie Children’s in hopes of finding a remedy. Several rounds of scans and tests revealed that his heart wasn’t pumping blood throughout his body as well as it should. Though there was hope for improvement, doctors warned there was also a chance that the condition could quickly turn critical. “To hear ‘sudden death’—you don’t consider that when you just went to the doctor for a cough,” says Jaquez’s mom Jaquette. “It was a rollercoaster.”
A cardiologist placed a cardiac cath in Jaquez’s heart to monitor his blood flow. Within weeks, it was clear his heart couldn’t heal on its own, and he would need a heart transplant. As he waited for a heart on the Cardiac Care Unit at Lurie Children’s, the COVID-19 pandemic began and limited the number of family members Jaquez could see. He kept his spirits up with musical therapy and visits from George, an activity coordinator in the Panda Cares Center of Hope.
Jaquez received a heart in June and made a strong recovery, returning home two weeks after surgery. His successful transplant “was everything we had prayed for,” Jaquette says. This fall, he began college virtually at Southern Illinois University and hopes to pursue a career that incorporates music education and business.