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Fargo boy celebrates one-year transplant anniversary

HORACE — He made it through a double- lung transplant, then broke an arm in April while playing football with his brother.

Jordan Peterson, 11, spent four weeks in a cast.

While it was a “bump in the road,” Jordan’s mom was unfazed.

“I was just thrilled that he was being a boy,” Annette Peterson said.

Jordan is back to the business of being a kid, one year after the transplant at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

At his checkup there earlier this month, doctors said Jordan’s recovery is “textbook.”

“It’s almost scary to say, it couldn’t be any better,” Annette said. “No sickness, zero rejection.”

“I’m feeling great right now,” said Jordan, adding, “I’m in the best shape I’ve been in my life.”

The family surprised Jordan with a party at their home in Horace on Wednesday night, marking exactly one year since he received healthy lungs from another child whose own life had taken a fatal turn.

They asked party guests to not bring gifts, but instead to remember the donor family in their thoughts and prayers.

“I think about them (the donor family) almost every day,” Jordan said.

Jordan has cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system.

His lung capacity had dipped to just 17 percent before the transplant, akin to being forced to breathe through a tiny straw.

As he got sicker, Jordan had to give up his favorite activities, instead spending hours every day in respiratory therapy and dealing with bouts of vomiting brought on by coughing fits.

In stark contrast, Jordan is now looking at a summer full of basketball camps, golf lessons and time at the lake.

He recently attempted wakeboarding for the first time, getting up on his first try.

He’s also signed up this fall for his favorite sport — football — now that he’s cleared for all physical activity, including contact sports.

“The kid wants to do everything!” Annette exclaimed.

“He’s as busy as any kid, as normal as any kid,” said Jordan’s dad, Dan Peterson.

Dan, Jordan and his brother Jesse, 9, just returned from an extended Father’s Day weekend of fishing on Lake of the Woods.

Their annual trip with several other families was more enjoyable this year because they didn’t have to haul medical equipment along to keep Jordan alive.

“I got to do a lot more fishing and spend more time with my friends,” Jordan said.

“His quality of life is so wonderful now,” Dan said.

Jordan’s follow-up care is also becoming more relaxed. Instead of return trips to Houston every three months, he’s moved to a six-month schedule. He doesn’t have to check his vital signs or blood sugar nearly as often, and a digestive problem referred to as “migraines of the stomach” is being remedied with medication.

On top of that, Jordan has grown a couple of inches and gained a few pounds.

The family credits the people at Texas Children’s Hospital, who took a chance on the donor lungs Jordan received after five other transplant centers turned them down because they didn’t appear viable at first.

“They really know what they’re doing,” Dan said. “The lungs turned out to be a perfect fit, a perfect match.”

Now that he’s reached the one-year milestone, there is much more for Jordan and his family to look forward to.

The day after Jordan turns 12 on July 4, the family leaves for a 10-day Alaskan fishing adventure, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Dakota and Joe’s Heroes.

This fall marks the start of sixth grade for Jordan at Oak Grove Lutheran School in Fargo and that long-awaited return to the football field.

“It sure has been a gift, a miracle, to see his whole life so changed,” Dan said.

Robin Huebner

Robin Huebner is also a 5 p.m. news anchor on WDAY-TV.

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