Just over 12 months ago, Zion Harvey became the first child to receive a double-hand transplant. And on Tuesday, this phenomenal 9-year-old used one of those hands to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Camden Yards before the Baltimore Orioles faced the Texas Rangers. Adam Jones was the lucky Oriole who got to catch Zion’s well-thrown pitch.
Watching Zion throw out that pitch on Tuesday night was amazing, but it’s just another step on his long journey. As a toddler, Zion contracted sepsis which resulted in organ failure and the amputation of his hands and feet. He uses prosthetics to walk (and is pretty active), and before the transplant he’d learned to eat and write using his forearms.
The surgery was long (11 hours), but it was no riskier than a kidney transplant, which Zion had undergone at age 4. That’s why his mother (who donated the kidney that Zion received) was willing to go forward with the hand transplant.
The operation took place at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and they put together a video about Zion’s surgery and his journey to get there.
Not only is Zion adorable with a killer smile, but he’s overwhelmingly positive, intelligent, and funny. He’s undergone extensive physical therapy in the past year, but it’s all paying off. His mother wanted him to get the surgery so he could one day “play monkey bars and football.” With his first pitch on Tuesday night, Zion is even closer to making those dreams a reality.
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