Top stories 2018: Juan Mikel-Jones had year of tribulation, recovery and victory

New Kent High School junior Juan Mikel-Jones’ 2018 was full of things an average 17-year-old should never have to worry about.

Juan began feeling ill in November 2017 and was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy, a serious heart condition; in January, doctors said he needed a heart transplant.

New Kent rallied around him with donations, fundraisers, cards and the viral social media hashtag #NewKentStrong, which is now used for anyone suffering in the community.

He was on the transplant list for only a few weeks before undergoing a successful 14-and-a-half hour surgery on Jan. 24 at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville.

After returning home in March, Juan continued his recovery, and his hopes were set on going back to school in the fall and playing varsity football again.

He began his junior year at New Kent High School in September and rejoined the team.

Juan said 2018 was a blessing, and he has learned everything happens for a reason.

“I thank God for everything he has given me,” Juan said. “I’ve had my ups and downs this year. The reason why I recovered so fast was because the Lord gave me strength to prevail. All I had to do was have faith, take care of my body, eat right and exercise.”

Juan said he plans to celebrate the anniversary of his transplant in January with family and friends.

Review archives were used in this story.

Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, or @ashleyrluck on Twitter

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