Sir Jonathan Thompson

From a 3-month-old baby struggling to breathe, to a 6-foot-4-inch tall teenager who wraps his doctors and nurses in bear hugs, Sir Jonathan Thompson has grown up at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. His life has been dotted with hospitalizations and personal loss, but also great successes.

Early on, parents Janel and Jonathan Thompson struggled to find the root cause of their new son’s breathing issues and allergies. Sir Jonathan was diagnosed with severe asthma, a chronic and unpredictable illness that has led to multiple hospitalizations, including time in Riley’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. “We really thought we were going to lose him a couple of times,” Janel recalls.

Just as pre-teen Sir Jonathan was getting better at managing his condition, the family received devastating news: Sir Jonathan’s dad had colon cancer. “[Sir] Jonathan’s dad was always the person to come to appointments with him,” recalls Riley asthma nurse Cindy Fiscus, RN. “When his dad was struggling, Jonathan stepped up; he knew his own history and could answer all of our questions, even at 12 years old.”

Last fall, just days after Sir Jonathan started his freshman year at Indianapolis’ Cathedral High School, his father passed away. “My dad preparing us the way he did made it easier,” he says. “It wasn’t like he left us empty. I still wanted more from him, but I didn’t feel like he didn’t fulfill the role of being my dad.” 

Sir Jonathan grew up watching his dad sing, perform and give back as a musician and educator, and he’s continuing that legacy by joining choir, theater and show choir at Cathedral, while also volunteering with kids. Last fall, he received Cathedral’s St. Andre Bessette Award for serving others.

The 15-year-old also keeps up with his asthma treatment, helping him avoid hospital stays for two years. “He has been a big part of how well he’s done,” says Riley Pediatric Pulmonologist Nadia Krupp, M.D., who nominated Sir Jonathan for the Riley Champions program. “He listens to our recommendations and takes care of himself.” 

Sir Jonathan’s time at Riley has inspired his goal after high school―he wants to be a physician.

“My experience at Riley has always been, not only is that person your doctor, but they become your best friend,” he says. “You really get not only a doctor, you get an extra family member, and that will be something I will carry on to my own career.”

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