Jeffree Chapa may not have been able to attend his senior prom, but his friends made sure to bring prom to him.
Chapa, a 17-year-old senior at Denham Springs High School, received a surprising, heartwarming hospital visit from several of his classmates on Saturday, April 14, less than an hour before the school’s prom.
Chapa’s friends visited him at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, where the senior has been since his lungs collapsed in class on Friday. It’s the second time in three years he will have undergone treatment on his lungs, his guardian Carole Ann Scott said.
But for a brief time, no one was talking about Chapa’s upcoming procedure as classmates brought a little bit of happiness to their sick friend.
Scott said Chapa’s prom date was the first to stop by Saturday afternoon. A few hours later, 32 more friends rolled into the hospital — dressed in their prom tuxes and dresses — though Scott originally thought only five couples were coming.
In this case, the more the merrier.
Chapa and his pals hung out in the hospital’s playroom, where one of his nurses — also a DSHS graduate — had hung Yellow Jacket-themed purple and gold balloons. Though prom started at 8:30 p.m., Scott said Chapa’s friends came to the hospital around 8:45 and wound up missing half their prom as they chatted with their friend, took pictures and signed his hospital gown.
“What they did was really sweet,” Scott said. “The fact that missed half their prom to see their friend says a lot about them.”
Scott said Chapa was diagnosed with a genetic condition called “bleb” two years ago. A bleb is a small collection of air between the lung and the lung’s outer surface that’s usually found in the upper lobe of the lung.
When a bleb ruptures, the air escapes into the chest cavity, causing what’s called a pneumothorax (air between the lung and chest cavity) that can result in a collapsed lung. Doctors removed part of Chapa’s lung during the initial operation his sophomore year, Scott said.
Chapa underwent surgery Monday to remove lung tissue and is scheduled to be released Wednesday. He’s expected to make a full recovery, Scott said.