Young Heart Patient Counts His Blessings

Thursday, October 20th 2011, 11:23 pm
By: News 9

Jamie Oberg, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY – Southmoore sophomore Justin Wilkerson only discovered he had a heart condition when doctors were treating him for a broken leg. That was last week.

This week, the teen is recovering from a life-saving surgery that he may not have received were it not for his injury at football camp.

"This is what they have in me right now," Wilkerson said, modeling a defibrillator just like the one now in his chest.

It keeps track of his heartbeats and sends information so his doctors know how to help. It will also shock his heart if or when he has a cardiac arrest.

"I actually got some built in Wi-Fi in my chest," he joked.

Despite everything he's been through, Wilkerson has been joking about his condition since News9 met him after his first surgery.

His mother doesn't think recent events are all that funny.

"You gonna start crying again?" Wilkerson asked his mother, Sherry Deubler.

Deubler held back her tears; she promised her son there would be no crying at the hospital.

"I might have cried a little, but you didn't hear me because you were asleep," she said.

The 15-year-old knows his condition is serious. Had Wilkerson's ventricular tachycardia gone undetected and untreated, he might not be alive today.

"He's resilient though. I'm proud of him, his courage and strength," his father, Keith Wilkerson said.

"Mom, plug your ears," the younger Wilkerson said, apparently not wanting his mother to hear what he was about to say. "I thought it was pretty cool last time," he said, "but this time I actually died, so to say, during surgery and they had to revive me."

Wilkerson said this experience is teaching him to look at every day not only as a blessing, but also as an opportunity to get a few good ones in on mom.

"I will short circuit," Sherry said trying to smile. "I made no promises after surgery so it's all over, buddy."

No doubt Wilkerson will keep up his ornery ways because, well, that's just his way and also because he realizes he may not be here for his mom to fuss over forever.

Wilkerson is due to be released Friday morning from OU Children's Hospital.

His parents said they want to thank everyone for all the thoughts and prayers.