Miracle Monday: Woman born with heart defect, down syndrome sets sights on taekwondo yellow belt
SPOKANE, Wash. — In a class full of kicks and punches is a woman who is strong and skilled.
Each taekwondo class gets Joy Moody closer to earning her yellow belt. She is just three tests away from her goal.
She has three more chances to prove herself after so many other tests in life.
J.J. Moody remembers the uncertainty that came with her daughter’s diagnosis in 1992.
“When she was born, we had no idea in advance that she was going to have down syndrome, nor that she was going to have the significant defect that she had,” J.J. Moody said.
She recalled that the first time Sacred Heart’s Dr. Hrair Garabedian saw Joy, he knew she had down syndrome and some kind of heart defect.
She was eventually diagnosed with an endocardial cushion heart defect. It’s a form of congenital heart disease common in people born with down syndrome, according Dr. Jeremy Nicolarsen, Joy Moody’s current doctor and director of the Providence Adult and Teen Congenital Heart Program.
“It’s something that the average physician, even general cardiologist, may not have a lot of experience with. But, here at Providence Adult and Teen Congenital Heart Program, we have plenty of patients with her heart defect and know exactly what to do when it comes to managing their care,” Dr. Nicolarsen said.
Joy Moody had her first heart surgery at four months old to fix the hole in her heart, according to her mom.
“Those were some challenging days,” J.J. Moody said.
Joy Moody survived two more surgeries by the time she turned 16. All of them happened at Spokane’s Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.
“Without those surgeries, she would have died of congestive heart failure,” J.J. Moody said.
Instead, she can cycle with Special Olympics Washington, play ping pong with her friends, and take taekwondo at the Northeast Youth Center.
She takes classes there twice a week through a program that is entirely volunteer run. Each class attendee only has to donate two cans of food per month, to help a local family, to take classes.
“It really helps her make better choices and on top of that, it’s helping her to become more physically fit and helping her with self esteem,” J.J. Moody said. “It’s a miracle in our lives.”
It is an active lifestyle Dr. Nicolarsen said is possible because of the care she’s had throughout her life.
“It’s really the successes of pediatric care and the impact that Children’s Miracle Network has had on that that sets these patients up to do really well in adulthood. They make my job easy really,” Dr. Nicolarsen said.
Behind Joy Moody, always, is a team of people ready to help her find joy and be Joy.
“God is so good. He knew ahead of time that she was going to be here. He gave us her name ahead of time and she truly is a joy,” J.J. Moody said. “He’s just put everything into place that she needs to be living a full life and we’re just so thankful and we want other people to take advantage of the incredible opportunities that are here.”
Hopefully, by next year, the Moody family will have one more miracle to be thankful for.
“When she gets that yellow belt, she’s going to be walking on cloud nine,” J.J. Moody said.
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