Shortly after his surgery on March 3, his body began to reject his new organ and he went into cardiac arrest. Miraculously, he pulled through on April 15 and started to breath on his own.
“For the last 188 days, confined to the halls of Boston Children’s Hospital, he hasn’t gone far,” his father Mike Schultz wrote on the family’s blog, Echo of Hope. “Yet, at the same time, he’s lived a life far more rich and full than many of us ever will.”
Ari’s story first made headlines after a video was shared on March 3 of his priceless reaction to the news that he’d be receiving a life-saving heart transplant. Just two weeks later, he experienced acute rejection to his new heart and on March 22, he went into cardiac arrest.
“We had no idea if Ari would come back to us at all. And, if he did, whether our little boy would still be anything near the same. Against all odds, he did. He’s here,” wrote Mike.
Although he’ll be leaving the hospital Friday, his family says “he still has huge hills to climb.”
He’ll be on 21 medications, not counting IV infusions he’ll need every two weeks. He will also need to be put on oxygen for awhile.
“It’s been the great privilege of my life to live at the hospital with Ari for the last 6 months. Now more than 400 days all in,” Mike adds. “I can’t exactly say it’s been a happy time, but as Emerson said, ‘The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.’ ”
On April 18, Mike and his wife Erica, started a campaign to try and save 100,000 lives after learning from their own experience that there are not enough organ donors.
Ari’s family is grateful that he will have the chance to live well, “go to school, grow up, have fun, make mistakes, have struggles and so on.”
Mike added: “I don’t know what any of that will be, and I don’t know for how long. I am, however, certainly looking forward finding out, and am forever grateful for every day of sparkle and shine yet to come.”