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'That was awesome': UK football players visit Children's Hospital

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Posted at 6:30 PM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 08:03:47-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — One of the young patients here was hooked up to a portable I.V. drip getting a blood transfusion to treat Leukemia. Another is recovering from a brutal surgery on his leg to remove a cancerous tumor. Regardless of their age or their reason for being inside the UK Children’s Hospital, their Tuesday afternoon was made a whole lot brighter when members of the Kentucky football team came to visit.

“Yeah, that was awesome! Those guys are great. Really cool,” said Thomas Devereux.

Chemotherapy has followed Thomas’ surgery. He had to be given a special discharge to attend the Tates Creek High School prom, during which he was named Prom King.

“My friends were really happy for me. It was great to see all of them, it had been a while,” he said of his big night last month.

Thomas expects to be discharged soon and hopes to complete chemotherapy by August, just in time to begin his freshman year at EKU.

Other patients here don’t have a good prognosis like that. It’s why these visits, which had to be placed on the back burner for two years due to COVID, are so important.

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“They’re such a key component to keeping kids well and healthy,” said Dr. Scottie Day. “If you can imagine taking that mental break to play with some of the top athletes at UK, it’s absolutely amazing,” he continued.

But there’s a therapeutic element to these visits for the players as well.

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“Anytime you walk into a room here, you forget how much you take for granted. It’s eye-opening and puts everything in perspective,” said Luke Fortner.

Fortner is now a professional, having been selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars at the very top of the third round last Friday.

“Great feeling, and got to experience it with my family,” he said of hearing his name called.

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A great feeling for the people at Children’s today, including those who care for the kids.

“It makes them (our patients) feel special, and that’s part of what we want people to feel when they come to the Children’s Hospital,” Dr. Day added.