Jeffrey Hunt Woodruff: The Eldest Son of Judy Woodruff
Jeffrey Hunt Woodruff is an American celebrity child, widely recognized as the eldest son of Judy Woodruff, a prominent American broadcast journalist with an extensive career in network, cable, and public television news.
Judy Woodruff has been a part of the journalism industry since 1976 and is best known for her role as the anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour until the end of 2022. Throughout her career, she has covered every presidential election and convention since 1976.
Early Life and Age
Jeffrey Hunt Woodruff is approximately 39 years old as of 2023.
Battling Spina Bifida and Increased Disability
Jeffrey has faced the challenges of living with spina bifida since birth. As a teenager, he underwent a surgical procedure that unfortunately resulted in increased disability.
A Window into the World of Disabilities
The struggles encountered by their son have exposed Judy Woodruff and her husband, Al Hunt, also a journalist, to a world that was largely unfamiliar to them.
Moderator for Disability Discussions
Judy Woodruff was approached to moderate a discussion involving the presidential candidates or their surrogates about disabilities due to her personal connection and understanding of the topic. She eagerly accepted the opportunity, stating that she would love to participate.
Learning of Jeffrey’s Disability
Judy Woodruff recalls that she first became aware of the possibility of her son having a disability during a routine sonogram a month before her due date.
The doctors noticed indications of hydrocephalus, a condition where the body produces more cerebrospinal fluid than it can absorb. About 85 percent of children born with spina bifida also have hydrocephalus, and the doctors observed fluid buildup in Jeffrey’s head.
Coping with the News
The news of their son’s potential disability came as a terrible shock to Judy Woodruff and her husband. They experienced a range of emotions and uncertainties over the next 30 days leading up to Jeffrey’s birth.
They were aware that hydrocephalus and spina bifida might be present, and indeed, Jeffrey was born with an opening from his spinal cord to the exterior of his body. Fortunately, the opening was lower on his back, minimizing damage to his nervous system.
Impact on Jeffrey’s Abilities
As Jeffrey grew older, it became apparent that his disability affected his ability to run, and he also experienced bladder and bowel incontinence. However, he had a relatively mild form of spina bifida, walking at the typical age of 13 months, and overall, he did not face significant disabilities.
Surgical Complications and Increased Disability
At the age of 16, Jeffrey underwent surgery to replace a shunt used to drain fluid from his brain. Unfortunately, complications arose from the procedure, leaving him profoundly disabled.
He experienced a drastic decline in his physical capabilities, losing the ability to walk and having limited use of the right side of his body. Additionally, his left eye would not open.
Lack of Physical Improvement
Over the course of 10 years since the surgery, there has been no physical improvement in Jeffrey’s condition. However, he has made progress in terms of emotional adjustment and adaptation. He continues to require assistance with daily activities such as getting out of bed and bathing.
However, he has improved in dressing himself and frequently engages in phone conversations. Jeffrey successfully graduated from high school and is currently attending St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, N.C.
Support at College
When Jeffrey initially started college, St. Andrews Presbyterian College was one of the few institutions that provided round-the-clock nursing care for disabled students. Although the college no longer offers this service, Jeffrey has established connections in the area who offer him assistance and support.
Expanding the Family
Given the circumstances surrounding Jeffrey’s disability, Judy Woodruff and her husband had concerns about the potential for their next child to be similarly affected.
However, their younger son, Ben, was born healthy when Jeffrey was over five years old. Additionally, they adopted their daughter, Lauren, from South Korea in 1989.
Progress in Government Attention and Funding
Judy Woodruff, having covered politics extensively throughout her career, has observed improvements in the attention and funding given to disabled individuals by the government.
While progress has been made in terms of research and funding, there remains a need for further advancements and increased public awareness. Spina bifida is still the most commonly occurring birth defect, and although the numbers have reduced due to increased awareness about the importance of taking folic-acid supplements, hundreds or even thousands of children continue to be born with the condition each year.
Continuing Challenges and the Americans With Disabilities Act
Although the Americans With Disabilities Act was enacted in 1990, allowing for significant progress, there is still a long way to go in terms of accessibility and inclusivity.
Certain places, stores, and homes remain inaccessible to individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, it is important to acknowledge the wide variety of disabilities, including hearing, visual, physical, and developmental delays.
The disabled community plays a crucial role in educating society about these differences and demonstrating that many individuals with disabilities are fully capable of working and learning.
Coping with Disability
For Judy Woodruff and her family, living with Jeffrey’s disability has become an integral part of their daily lives. They view Jeffrey as an essential member of their family who has opened their eyes to the challenges faced by disabled individuals.
Judy Woodruff emphasizes the significance of not taking things for granted and the valuable lessons in humanity that come from having a disabled family member. Although Jeffrey faces numerous obstacles, he remains a normal kid who, like any other child, can occasionally be a source of frustration.
By sharing their experiences and advocating for greater awareness and support, Judy Woodruff and her family aim to contribute to a more inclusive and compassionate society for individuals with disabilities.