Sixteen-year-old Anthony Majors of Boonville, Ind., has a favorite white T-shirt with big orange lettering that aptly sums up his attitude: “Don’t tell me I can’t fly.”
Or live. Or march. Or graduate with his class. Or go to college.
At 6 weeks old, Anthony was diagnosed with leukopenia and neutropenia, a low white blood cell count that puts him at risk of life-threatening infection. His mother Lindy Enlow recalls that doctors told her not to take him out at all, that he probably wouldn’t make it. “That was just the first time,” she says. “We’ve heard that a lot.”
Later she would learn the youngest of her three sons also had paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, a rapid heartbeat that begins and ends suddenly. Doctors at the Riley Hospital clinic in Evansville controlled the condition with medication until the drugs began to jeopardize Anthony’s healthy blood pressure. He underwent heart surgery in Indianapolis in June 2009.
He had surgery at Riley Hospital again in August 2009 to correct miserable malalignment syndrome, a genetic condition of the legs that led to pain and instability. Anthony plays center snare in the percussion section of the Boonville High School Marching Band, and when he couldn’t march last year, crowds cheered as he played from the pit. When his two older brothers graduated this spring, Anthony moved from wheelchair to crutches to join the band in playing their graduation song. Lindy Enlow tears up at the memory: “He needed ice packs for the pain in his legs. But he never feels sorry for himself.”
Anthony completed physical therapy and was cleared to return to the marching field for his senior year. His resolve to graduate with his class has inspired his classmates and teachers.
Instead of living in a “bubble” as doctors once predicted, Anthony is daring to look ahead to college. After his heart surgery, Anthony’s surgeon Joyce Hubbard, M.D., spent more than an hour answering his many questions about becoming a pediatric cardiologist. Although Anthony’s immune system still demands extra care, he wants to study pre-medicine at Indiana University.
Grateful for support from his family, church and community, Anthony continues to raise funds for Riley Hospital and to speak on its behalf. His sheer determination to live a normal, active life makes him a champion: “Everybody’s been telling me my whole life, I won’t see tomorrow or next month or next year,” Anthony says. “For as long as I’m here, I want to be like other kids.”
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