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Hope, Care and Encouragement Help Garrett Lessman Succeed

Garrett Lessman and his mom, Stacy

In a couple weeks, Garrett Lessman will graduate from high school as a valedictorian and the student council president. He participated in varsity athletics, receiving 10 varsity letters between football, basketball and baseball. And this is what Dr. San Joaquin had hoped for him.

In 2003 at 8 years old, Garrett was diagnosed with X-Linked Agammaglobulinemia, also known as Bruton's Disease. His physician, Dr. San Joaquin, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at The Children's Hospital at The University of Oklahoma, expressed hope that Garrett would live a normal life.

Well, not only is Garrett living a normal life, he is living an extraordinary life.

Garrett will attend Baylor University in the fall as a National Merit Scholar. He will study business and plans to attend law school after earning his undergraduate degree.

“I wanted to share Garrett’s story for two reasons,” explains Garrett’s father, Steve, “First, to honor Dr. San Joaquin, who is now retired, for his exceptional service. He provided valuable care and encouragement. Also, I hope that Garrett's story might encourage and inspire other parents and children who are dealing with a primary immunodeficiency disease.”

“Challenges make you stronger,” says Steve, “We've seen it in our lives as parents, and we've seen our son become a stronger person due to the struggles he's had with Bruton's.”

14-year-old Garrett with Bob Stoops, head coach of the University of Oklahoma football team, on a treatment day at the hospital

Steve suggests that parents with children receiving immunoglobulin therapy make treatment days special. “Garrett and his mom will miss their once a month day that they got to spend together at treatment centers...doing homework, talking about life issues, watching ESPN, eating out lunch afterwards, and getting to know OU football coach Bob Stoops as he visited Children's Hospital.”

Garrett is looking forward to college. He encourages other teens with primary immunodeficiency diseases to “live as normally as possible and keep a sense of humor, even about your disease. Above all, trust in the Lord.”

Congratulations, Garrett, and best of luck at Baylor. Thank you, Dr. San Joaquin and all healthcare professionals who provide such hope, care and encouragement for their patients and families.

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I was wondering if absences due to illness were an issue and did his school system work with the family on it. I have a primary immune deficiency, but I'm asking for my young niece and nephew. One of which may also have a PID and the other has Periodic Fever Disorder. Both miss school more than the acceptable allowed absences and instead of working with my sister the school has threatened to call social services even though she provides doctor's notes and additional information. Both children excel in school and the way they are being treated is not fair. My sister is being forced to consider home schooling. This student is a great example of how someone with a serious illness or disability can do anything if the people around them help rather than act as roadblocks. Way to go!

Garrett attends a small private school. They have been helpful in working with us and his absences. We have had to go in to visit with the administration a few times to clarify why he's been absent. I'm sorry your family has not had the same experience. I hope the best for you and your niece and nephew. I'll say a prayer for each of you. Thanks for reading Garrett's story.

Thank you for your response. I wish Garrett much success (even though he's attending a school that was a rival of mine-SMU). Baylor is a wonderful university. I had friends that went to school there and went on to achieve great things.