Zion Harvey just threw his first pitch ever–at age 9. Not to mention, his first pitch ever took place at a Baltimore Orioles game. This is because he’s the first child to undergo a double hand transplant–and successfully so.
In July 2015, Zion underwent the groundbreaking surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which took 11 hours to complete. When Zion was only 2, he lost both his hands and legs below the knees as a result of a life-threatening infection–an infection that also damaged his kidneys. Luckily, he received a healthy kidney donated by his own mom, Pattie Ray.
Zion told NBC how he wouldn’t be here without his mom–and how much he is so grateful to her:
“Without my mom, I would not be right here right now. It’s been me and my mom forever.”
Amazingly, it was actually because of the immune suppressing medication Zion had to take after his kidney transplant that helped his body tolerate the hand transplant so well.
Of course, the recovery from the surgery was no walk in the park–it required hours of rehab as his brain has to literally relearn how to use his hands. However, Zion shocked everyone when he was able to play with his action figures only a few weeks later. Now, at one year later, Zion says his life has never been better:
“I’m very excited. Because now I can do more than I imagined. Like throw a football. Play baseball. Or, I don’t know, do a handstand. So when I got my hands, it’s like, here’s the piece of my life that was missing. Now it’s here. Now my life is complete.”
His mom, Pattie Ray, revealed how it’s been amazing to see his transformation:
“He’s very independent. He’s a 9-year-old. And he’s showing it. We’ve been tested. So, it definitely has been a year to remember. We’ve come a long way together.”
Watch this video below of Zion talking about his life post-surgery: