Sickle cell patient gives the gift of music at Ascension St. Joseph

December 19, 2019

By Karen Stokes

Jonathan Hood plays piano at Ascension St. Joseph’s. (Photo by Karen Stokes)

Beautiful music has a calming effect and calm is important to hospital health care providers and patients. Jonathan Hood, a sickle cell patient, is giving back to the hospital where he spent time by sharing his talent playing piano in the lobby at Ascension St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“The reason I play at hospitals is I feel indebted,” said Hood. “The nurses, doctors and administrative staff are there all day and night, they do so much and they have people screaming and swearing at them. I’ve actually done those things to nurses and doctors.”

Hood has spent a great deal of his life in hospitals due to his diagnosis of sickle cell. With sickle cell disease, the hemoglobin is abnormal, causing the red blood cells to be rigid and shaped like a “C” or sickle. Sickle cells can get stuck and block blood flow, causing pain and infections.

According to, approximately 70,000 to 100,000 Americans have sickle cell disease, the most common form of an inherited blood disorder.

“When I play I hope I can alleviate stress. I love to play because it stops my pain. I feel a sense of serenity and there’s no pain anymore,” said Hood.

Pictured above are (from left) Theresa Barnett; Jonathan Hood; Jasmira Hood; Caleb Hood; Patrice Hood; and St. Joseph Hospital Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Kluesner.

“When I get stressed out it’s difficult. I just got out of the ICU last week and it started from a stressful situation and it went downhill very quickly. One minute I can’t breathe and the next I’m in ICU and my mom, wife and son are trying to calm me down.”

Hood 32, has an eclectic taste in music, from classical, jazz and gospel to soft rock. He also plays at Feed My Sheep Ministry Church where his stepfather, Carlton Barnett pastors.

“When I’m playing the piano I can connect to God,” Hood said.

When asked what a good day for him looks like, Hood said, “A good day is a day where I can be in as little pain as possible and be as productive as possible, firing on all cylinders. I’m able to spend time with my wife, Jasmira and my son, Caleb and I get to go to work. That’s a pretty good day for me.”

Employed at Russ Darrow Kia, Hood has a great working relationship with his supervisor and staff.

“The entire staff is very welcoming, it’s like a family,” he said.

“There’s no one way to beat sickle cell. It’s a fight. It’s a battle everyday,” Hood said. “I don’t necessarily feel I’m winning the fight but it’s my mom, dad, stepfather, sister, grandmother, wife and son, my family that encourages me to fight everyday. It’s real.”