Javonté Perry, a 20-year-old junior neuroscience major and psychology minor, appears at first glance to be an athletic young man in good health, unless one notices the portable I.V. bag and scars from surgery concealed beneath his clothing.
Although he remains active in some extracurricular organizations and programs, Perry has missed a significant amount of school due to hospital visits and his life is marred by occasional difficulties breathing.
Perry first began to notice problems breathing last year. Maame E. Riverson, Perry’s friend and a fellow junior neuroscience student, encouraged Perry to visit a doctor in June. There, what doctors initially believed to be pneumonia was discovered to be cardiomyopathy, a type of congestive heart failure.
Perry will require a heart transplant soon, and his friends have created a GoFundMe page intended to assist Perry and his family with paying for his costly medical bills.
Cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart becomes enlarged and cannot properly pump blood throughout the body, creating a backup of blood and other fluids in the lungs and causing difficulty breathing.
On Feb. 15, Perry was implanted with a portable defibrillator which monitored his heart rate and would electrically shock his heart, should he suffer a cardiac arrest. Just a few weeks ago, Perry again experienced trouble breathing. He returned to the hospital, where he stayed until April 26. His doctors then issued the prognosis that Perry’s heart would likely not recover and he will require a full transplant.
Ashley Jacobs, another junior neuroscience student and a friend of Perry, was impressed by his cheerful disposition in the face of such a major health problem.
“[Perry] is a fighter,” Jacobs said. “Unless you knew about the cardiomyopathy, you would never tell that anything was wrong because that’s just the way he is. He’s always active and happy.”
According to the National Foundation for Transplants, an average heart transplant may cost up to $1.2 million; however, Perry estimates his will likely cost around $300,000. Perry has type one diabetes, which would put him at risk for infection during surgery. Doctors estimate that Perry will have to wait at least several weeks before he is ready for the operation.
Perry hopes that his Delawarean health insurance will cover the transplant surgery. However, he worries about the medical bills piling up from previous surgeries and hospital visits that occurred before he gained medical insurance. Perry is also concerned about how his insurance will apply toward what may have to be an out-of-state operation.
“The whole problem I have is that my insurance is from Delaware, but there’s nowhere in Delaware that I can go to get a transplant,” Perry said. “So I need to get my insurance authorized out-of-state where I would need to go to get it done. But even still, they’re not sure if it would cover the whole cost of the procedure.”
In response to these mounting expenses, Riverson created a GoFundMe page on April 18 with a goal of raising $5,500 to cover some of Perry’s medical bills. As of this article’s publication, 134 people have raised $3,575 in 18 days.
“Javonté never asks for anything or indicates that he needs help because he’s so capable,” Riverson said. “But once I realized how much all these bills were going to cost, I knew that there was no way he could pay for all this by himself.”
In spite of his significant health issues, Perry is continuing to live his life normally. In addition to juggling his responsibilities as a student, he tutors other students in biology and chemistry at the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (ISE) Lab. He plans to attend medical school or graduate school with the hope of becoming a psychiatrist or a neuropsychologist.
“I don’t want people to pity me,” Perry said. “I want people to understand, you know, more that you can overcome something. I’d like people to be more aware of what others are going through as well.”
Anyone interested in donating to the GoFundMe page can do so by visiting https://www.gofundme.com/javonte039s-new-heart.