Jordan Peterson left Texas Children’s Hospital on Friday afternoon, just 10 days after the 10-year-old from Fargo received two new lungs.
Before he was discharged, George Mallory, Jordan's doctor and director of transplants at the hospital, came to say goodbye to the patient he calls “Bison Boy.”
And while Jordan can't wait to get back to North Dakota State games at the Fargodome, he will spend the next few months in Houston, having frequent tests and checkups.
Jordan headed back to the family’s RV just miles from the medical center, where the Peterson family -- his parents, Dan and Annette, and 8-year-old brother, Jesse -- has been staying for the past eight months.
It has been awhile since Jordan has taken a full breath of air, and Friday, with 100-degree heat and stifling humidity in Houston, was probably not a good test of the new lungs. But nonetheless, he left the hospital a changed boy, preparing to celebrate his 11th birthday on the Fourth of July.
Mallory, one of the world’s premier transplant doctors, is the man who has guided Jordan throughout his disappointments and celebrations.
For the last several days, Jordan has called the Texas Medical Center home. It is the largest medical complex in the world -- 54 hospitals, clinics and centers sprawled out across 1,300 acres. It sees 7 million patients a year. One of them, Jordan, found a prize fighter of a doctor in his corner.
Mallory isn’t surprised by Jordan’s recovery.
“He has had the smoothest recovery of any of our recent patients. I am not surprised. He has a great attitude, terrific family, and he went into transplant without being too sick,” Mallory said.
At 65, Mallory could be retiring to the island of his choice, escaping the heat of Houston.
“And for some complex reasons, not only did I decide to not retire, but I asked myself, ‘Do I still enjoy this very intense work?” he said. “And you hit the nail on the head; this is what it is all about.”
This is why he is loved and respected by children and their families who are going through the most traumatic times of their lives.
There are uncertainties ahead for Jordan, so with brutal honesty and therapeutic humor, he tries to help the boy through his rehabilitation.
The hospital’s transplant chief, Mallory was there when Jordan went in for surgery and came out without lungs -- three times. But it was Mallory who made the decision to accept the lungs now transplanted into Jordan when a handful of other hospitals refused them.
“And you never know for sure until the surgeon opens the chest, looked at the lungs, felt them and looked inside, so there is artfulness to it,” the doctor said. “But we are aggressive in thinking through and trying to leave no stone unturned in looking for organs.”
Page 2 of 2 - While Mallory deals with countless families a year, he sees something special in Jordan.
“He is a very formal, old-fashioned boy. I love that,” Mallory said.
Mallory also loves to think long term.
“I think this boy is, I hope for a long time, not weeks or months but many years ... is going to tell his story and enjoy living, inspire others and live with courage in the face of uncertainty,” he said
Jordan’s recovery can be attributed, in part, to the fact that neither he nor his doctor refused to give up on hope.
“Want your old lungs back?” he asked Jordan.