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Trojan spirit: meet Brian Dougherty

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Throughout our school, an abundance of students take pride and demonstrate Trojan spirit to show their devotion to our Trojan family. Whether it’s getting a student section together for the athletic events, attending pep rallies, or participating in school activities, students always come together as one. However, there is one student who stands out for his unique type of Trojan spirit and for his remarkable story.

Brian Dougherty, a 10th grader at Greater Nanticoke Area, was born with just half of a heart. His mother, Susan Boncal, was 22 weeks pregnant when she was informed that her son would be born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a complex and rare heart defect that presents itself at birth. The right side of his heart would always be overloaded trying to pump blood throughout his entire body. Like any other teenager, Brian deals with day-today struggles along with his heart condition, but his heartwarming story will show you just how much of a fighter he is.

Upon having his first surgery at just six days old, there seemed to be many more surgeries that will await him in the near future. Before he turned the age of two, he had endured three open heart surgeries. He then started to develop a digestive condition called Protein-Losing Enteropathy, a condition of the gastrointestinal tract that results in a net loss of protein from the body. Due to this tragic development, Brian started taking medicine regularly to cope with his many health issues, which helped to stabilize him for several years.

Around the age of ten, though, all of his problems and his family’s worries returned. Whenever Brian became sick, everything seemed to get much worse. Even a minor illness could be life threatening. His family and his doctors tried their hardest to keep him healthy and have him back on track to a happier and stress free life.

During June of 2014, his mother asked his doctor about a heart transplant, since his health wasn’t as poor as it had been in the past. Before his health became any worse, doctors evaluated Brian for a heart transplant in Philadelphia and he was able to be put on the transplant list. On June 24th of 2015, he was moved to the top category for given transplants. Two months later, a call came saying there is a heart ready for Brian! For four long days after the surgery, he was paralyzed, but fortunately, he was able to relearn how to walk, and is now walking freely. His health problems and recovery have brought some negatives along with positives, but through it all, Brian seemed to have been very accepting and understanding about what he is going through.

Spontaneous outpourings of love and support have been given to Brian from his friends and family in any way they see possible. His teacher, Jean Marie Hockenbury, always recognized what a good kid he is and how much positivity he holds, even after all he has been through. His Facebook page called “A Whole Heart for Brian” gets his story out there, gives everyone a glimpse into his everyday life and shares updates about his condition with users who interact over social media. Brian embodies what type of spirit a true Trojan embodies: never giving up and always having hope, no matter how bad things are. We are proud to have a student like him as a part of our school, to represent an amazing depiction of Trojan spirit.

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Trojan spirit: meet Brian Dougherty