Woody Jones, who was trying to cope with the reality that his athletic son, then 16, was in desperate need of a new heart, started videorecording their experience.
“I was filming in the hospital because I didn't know if my son was going to survive or not. So I was trying to have memories,” said Jones, of New Kent. “I was sad, upset and frustrated, and I was just filming everything” in case the worst happened.
Fast forward three years to today, and his son, Juan Mickel-Jones, is wrapping up his first semester at VCU College of Engineering. The biomedical engineering major has fully recovered from heart transplant surgery required to treat his severe cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle that can lead to heart failure.
The footage that his father began filming for himself has led to a new 78-minute documentary about Mickel-Jones, called “Why Not Me?” Available now for pre-order and scheduled for release in February, the family seeks to raise funds through its sale for the UVA Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters and the Lupus Foundation of America.
Mickel-Jones, 19, who had always been interested in science, said he started thinking about studying engineering when he was in high school. “I didn’t know what kind, though. Then I went through this and I was like, biomedical engineering it is!”