Zion Harvey was 8-years-old when he became part of an extraordinary, life-changing and historic surgery.
“I wasn’t always like this. When I was 2, I had to get my hands cut off because I was sick” he told CHOP (The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia).
According to CHOP, “In 2008, at the age of 2, Zion Harvey developed sepsis, a life-threatening infection that attacked his entire body and eventually required amputation of both of his hands and his legs below the knee.
The infection also damaged Zion’s kidneys and two years later, he underwent an organ transplant, receiving a kidney from his mother, Pattie Ray.”
Despite having gone through various medical procedures at such a young age, Zion remained positive and vibrant.
“When I get these hands, I will be proud…and if it gets messed up, I don’t care because I have my family,” Zion said as he was comforted by his mother.
CHOP noted that at the age of 8, “he [was] chosen to become the recipient of the world’s first pediatric bilateral hand transplant” and difficult decisions had to be made before bringing Zion on to undergo the procedure.
They would be performing the hand transplant for the first time and along with the possibility of complications along the way, it would also require Zion to be on life-long medication.
“Each year there are only 15 children, based on the databases, that would even be eligible to donate hands. And then it comes down to the organ procurement organizations approaching families at a terrible time, the loss of a child. Just stop and think about that.
So the fact that he was put on the waiting list for hands in April, and three months later this came along. That in and of itself is a remarkable story.” – L. Scott Levin, MD, FACS (CHOP)
His mother Pattie made a heartfelt statement about her son’s strength:
“He jumps so many hurdles…This isn’t the first amazing thing that he has done…He has been doing amazing things since he’s been sick. I don’t know many adults that could handle his life on a day-to-day basis.” – Pattie (Zion’s Mother), CHOP
A year later (08/09/16), Zion, now 9-years-old, was invited to the Orioles game in his hometown (Baltimore) to throw the first pitch.
To learn more about Zion’s story, check out the video below: