In May of 2014, Jacob went to the doctor’s office to get an athletic clearance form when the doctor noticed his blood pressure was abnormally high. After retrials with the same results, the doctor decided to test Jacob’s blood. Weeks later he called Jacob’s mother with the results. The doctor urged them to drive up to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at once. Jacob was diagnosed with Congenital Heart Defect caused by a disconnected aorta and to cure this went through a 7 ½ hour surgery, during which they repaired Jacob’s aorta with a carbon based tube. Surgeries like this can often take a toll on one’s attitude, but Jacob’s mother, Janice Burris says, “Jacob was positive and enthusiastic throughout the surgery, and helped keep [his family] positive as well.”
His outstanding attitude throughout the process was part of the reason Jacob was selected to be a designer of a Nike shoe through the Doernbecher-Nike Freestyle program. Through this program, every year, six patients from Doernbecher in Portland, Oregon team up with a Nike designer to create their own custom shoe. The shoes are sold online as well as at a charity event and all proceeds go to Doernbecher. When designing his shoe, Jacob explains, ”I picked bionic circuit board designs for my shoe, because of the carbon tube combining my aorta together. [I also chose to include] a heart pulse, and on the back of the shoe my name is encrypted in a computer chip like text.”
Along with these designs, Jacob chose to include a patch that reads, “Check your BP”, to encourage others to check their blood pressure. He included this because he thinks, “if everyone else checks their blood pressure, then they might find something wrong and get it fixed early.”
While Jacob Burris seems like your average child at first sight, he is anything but. The brave young man inspires others in his community while raising awareness for high blood pressure, as well as raising money for his hospital with his shoe sales.