BOSTON – Andrew Madden, a 13-year-old Boston Red Sox fan from Odessa, Texas, bounded up the steps of Fenway Park's home dugout Thursday evening and grinned at his first view of the ballpark's famed left-field wall, known as The Green Monster.
"It's amazing," he exclaimed. "The Green Monster is awesome."
Nearby, his mother, Lauri Wemmer, and his heart surgeon, Dr. Kristine Guleserian, beamed.
Madden underwent heart transplant surgery Sept. 30 at Children's Medical Center in Dallas. Diagnosed as a newborn with an enlarged heart, Madden was admitted to the hospital in August because of heart failure.
While waiting for a donor heart, Madden met Guleserian, a Boston native and herself a Red Sox fan. As weeks passed, patient and surgeon talked almost daily, as often about the first-place Red Sox and the coming playoffs as the pending surgery.
"We would talk baseball first," Guleserian said, "and talk 'How're you feeling' after that."
On the day before surgery, Guleserian presented Andrew with a Red Sox baseball cap she'd purchased at Fenway Park. Attached, her note to him read, "Andrew, Here's a little something for good luck. The best is yet to come."
He wore the cap into surgery.
Fewer than four weeks later, and traveling with an oxygen tank and a defibrillator in case of emergency, Andrew had arrived at Fenway Park for the first time.
Grace Flight of America provided the jet and the Texas Rangers donated $15,000 for fuel. Red Sox president Larry Lucchino invited Andrew and his party to watch the game from his suite.
Guleserian, at Andrew's side, compared the experience to watching "a new heart start beating again."
"There's something about walking into this place that's indescribable," she said.
Andrew said he became a Red Sox fan during the 2004 playoffs, when the Red Sox came back from three games down to beat the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, then beat the St. Louis Cardinals for their first World Series title since 1918.
"I started watching them then," Andrew said, "and fell in love with them ever since."