The sweet video of a little boy discovering he's going to get a new heart is currently going viral on YouTube - and once you watch, you'll understand why.
Five-year-old Ari Schultz was diagnosed with critical aortic stenosis before he was even born, according to Echo of Hope, the website set up in his honor. His parents, Mike and Erica, agreed to let doctors intervene when Ari was still in utero at just 20 weeks, in order to prevent him from being born with a two-chamber heart. And in the years since, Ari has more than proven he's a fighter. Time after time, he's exceeded expectations and even broken records, as the first person to ever undergo two successful heart surgeries before being born. He's also only the fifth person in the world to receive the experimental Melody valve in his mitral position. Additionally, he has had over 20 surgeries overall and has had three of his four heart valves replaced.
He's also a bright light to all who know him.
According to his parents, Ari is a "a rabid sports fan ... is mesmerized discovering the world of Harry Potter, adores his sister Lexi and brother Eli, and is an all around good kid." But sadly, he's recently had to put his young life on hold, and has been living as an inpatient at Boston Children's hospital for the past 4 months while suffering from congestive heart failure.
Only a new heart could truly help the Ari thrive - so when his parents were given the incredible news that their baseball loving boy was finally getting a new heart, they had to document it on camera.
"You know how you like going to the baseball games right?" Ari's dad tells his son at the start of the video. "Do you want to go to a Red Sock's game this season?"
"Yes," Ari replies, while gripping his baseball bat in one hand.
"I was talking to the doctors a few minutes ago," his dad continues, "and ... you know how they've been looking for a heart for a long time? I think they found one and it might be perfect for you!"
The look of pure joy that spreads across his 5-year-old's face - just as he exclaims, "They found one!?" - is hard not to watch without melting into a puddle of emotions.
But my favorite part about this whole exchange? The adorable innocence of every question he asks next - even while his parents do their best to be honest with him about the details of his surgery. "When can I go home?" Ari asks, before following it up with, "I can have more water?"
Are you crying yet?
Though he doesn't voice it, it's clear there is a little fear mixed with anticipation in Ari's eyes. (After all, who wouldn't be scared to have a heart transplant, at any age.) But it's also easy to see the unbridled hope in his expression - and the understanding that he knows this surgery will make his life even better. That's a lot for a child to take on at the young age of 5, but Ari seems to be ready for it.
As of today, Ari's family has reported that he is out of the CICU and doing "a little better every day."
We're so happy to see you making progress, Ari, and we hope to see you out on the baseball field soon!
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