FORT JENNINGS — William Lucas, 15, is the son of a former Marine and like his dad has learned how to be a fighter and mentally strong.
On Friday, William will undergo a second open heart surgery at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.
He will end up missing the first week of his sophomore year at Fort Jennings High School. The surgery also will keep him from playing his favorite sport, soccer. He’s been delayed getting his driver’s permit. And he’s holding out hope he’ll be able to play basketball this winter and run track in the spring.
Life hasn’t dealt him a poker hand full of aces, but you don’t hear him complaining.
“I know there are people out there praying for me and they do anything to help me,” William said. “The Fort Jennings community encourages me by telling me they will always be there for me.”
William is the son of Bill and Cathy Lucas and the youngest of three siblings.
He was born at St. Rita’s Medical Center, at a healthy weight and after a normal pregnancy.
Then it happened.
“His body turned blue after he was born. … I knew right away what was wrong,” said Cathy, who is a case manager in the emergency room at Lima Memorial Health System.
Just 3 days old, William was in need of open heart surgery. His aorta and pulmonary arteries were not on the correct side of his heart, so his heart was running backward. He was flown to Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“He had a hole in his heart and that was keeping him alive. He was fortunate because he was a bigger baby. Usually they have to let them gain weight before they could get open heart surgery,” Cathy said.
William went home three weeks after the surgery with an NG tube and lots of medicine. He was sick for awhile.
“He had reflux and could not keep anything down and had surgery on his sinuses where tubes were put into his ears,” Cathy said.
When he was 4 years old, he started having narrowing at the surgery site where the scar tissue was not growing with the veins.
It was back to Ann Arbor where William had a catheter and a stent put in his heart. Then at age 8 he had a stent put in the other side of his heart.
Last year the area around his arteries was narrowing and not a lot of blood could get through. He had adult stents put in on both sides of his heart at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Following his surgery Friday, there will be a seven- to 10-day recovery period and another six to eight weeks of restrictions.
William said he looks forward to getting his driving permit after the surgery is over. His father has been teaching him how to drive a stick shift using his Army Jeep.
As for sports, it’s also wait and see. Doctors said since he is at the age where a stress test was needed. It was conducted July 1, and he failed.
“Doctors found that his coronary artery is being restricted by the pulmonary artery,” Cathy said.
His parents said their son is a fighter and thinks of others before himself. On his birthdays, he is known to ask his friends to donate money to causes to help others.
“He has the best personality and his name is perfect for him because he has a strong Will. You can’t tell he has medical problems because he is so positive,” Cathy said.
Bill said William is a great son and being a former Marine he tries to instill values in his son.
“I try to instill honesty and integrity in him and teach him that his last name means a lot,” Bill said.
William said having the community and his friends and family praying for him has kept him strong.
“It gives me motivation when they visit me and send texts every day,” William said. The community visited his home Saturday for a cookout and to wish him well on his surgery.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.