Five-year-old Red Sox fan Ari Schultz had a big grin on his face as he ran around and played baseball with his siblings on Friday. He was determined to enjoy every minute he could in the backyard.
As WCVB reports, just a few weeks ago it was unclear whether the young boy would ever stand on his feet again.
According to his parent’s blog, Echo of Hope, Ari was diagnosed with critical aortic stenosis and evolving hypoplastic left heart syndrome when his mom was 18 weeks pregnant.
He was the first person to undergo two heart surgeries before he was born. The baby had heart surgery again on the day he was born.
Coming back from his first heart procedure on the day Ari was born. Congenital heart defect awareness week.
Unfortunately, his heart problems continued as he grew.
In July 2016, he went in for his annual cardiac catheterization and was told he was suffering from heart failure.
Ari has a cardiac catheterization once a year primarily to check the pressure in his heart and function of his valves….
Immediately he was put on the heart transplant list.
After 211 days of waiting at Boston Children’s Hospital, his parents, Mike and Erica, were given the news that they had found a donation. They told Ari and recorded his reaction.
The video was viewed nearly half a million times on YouTube and more than a million times on Facebook.
He had a successful heart transplant on March 3, 2017. But a few weeks later, the young boy started showing symptoms of rejection.
Unfortunately things are not going well for us these days. Two big pieces of bad new: Ari is battling rejection, and our…
On March 23, he went into cardiac arrest and was placed on life support.
At 8:20 last night, Ari went into cardiac arrest. He was given CPR for 30 minutes then placed on life support. At the…
His parents wrote in a blog post that it was painful to watch their son fight for his life:
Nobody should ever have to hold their 5-year-old’s hand through a cardiac arrest. 20 minutes felt like a second, and like forever. I am so grateful, however, that I could be there with him the whole time talking to him. I’m glad I could find the words for him, and have him to focus on me and not what was happening to him.
Mike put on ESPN in the hospital room and read him sports articles so his young baseball fan could listen to the Red Sox games. Then two weeks later, Ari woke up.
Ari's awake! Struggling. Fighting.https://echoofhope.org/2017/04/06/gunfight-at-the-o-k-corral/
He struggled as his body started to stabilize, but the young boy kept his hopes up and followed his favorite baseball team in his spare time.
Ari's still making us very nervous medically and is having trouble making progress in CICU, but he's certainly still…
He was moved back to the general floor by the end of the month.
On June 15, his parents were given incredible news. During their baseball practice at the hospital, Mike decided to tell Ari.
His dad asked:
Dad: “Hey Ari, remember how you got your new heart?”
Dad: “You know how you’ve been getting better now?”
Dad: “Remember when we talked about going home someday? What did we talk about a few days ago?”
Ari: “It might be a few weeks.”
Dad: “Yeah, not months.”
Dad: “I think something’s changed.”
Ari: “What’s changed?”
Dad: “It’s going to be days now. As a matter of fact, what day is today? […] It’s Wednesday. Do you want to go home on Friday?”
Ari: “Yeah. Two days!”
The little boys face lit up. He laughed when he was told he had been at the hospital for 187 days:
Ari: “That’s crazy!”
When asked what he wanted to do when he got out, he responded, “Maybe go to a baseball field.” Then he hit his own baseball and ran around an imaginary baseball field at the hospital.
In an interview with Dearly, his parents said they have been released from the hospital:
“Yes we did. Yesterday. Just got back from taking Ari to visit a baseball field as he asked.”
And they have big plans coming soon. Ari was invited to attend a Red Sox game.
— Pete Frates (@PeteFrates3) June 17, 2017
Simply name the date ! With you two in the house we can't lose ! https://t.co/qTF4Py6q17
— Sam Kennedy (@skennedysox) June 17, 2017
Can't wait to see you at Fenway Ari! You are the man! ?? https://t.co/wVgfpRG94L
— Andrew Benintendi (@asben16) June 17, 2017
His parents are proud that Ari’s story can help raise awareness for the many other kids with heart defects around the world.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 40,000 babies in the U.S. are diagnosed with congenital heart defects every year. Around 7,200 infants have critical heart defects at birth that require immediate surgery.
Ari will need to take anti-rejection medication and steroids for the rest of his life to help ensure his transplant is successful. For now, he’s just happy to be out of the hospital.
Even though the baseball fan is looking forward to the game, he told WCVB that the best part about being home is seeing his brother and sister.
His dad Mike told the news station that he’s happy to have his entire family together— just in time to celebrate Father’s Day.