After 99 days of lying in a hospital bed, fighting every day to survive, a 13-year-old Burlington, North Carolina, boy got a life-saving heart transplant.
A video of Albert Jeffries IV finding out this week that a heart was available for transplant was posted to a Facebook page by his mother, and his stunned reaction to the good news has helped the post go viral.
Albert was born with dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart disease that causes the heart's main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, to be enlarged and weakened, decreasing its ability to pump blood.
“He almost passed out,” his mother, Tina Turner, told ABC News today about the moment Albert first found out late Wednesday of the organ's availability. “He could not believe the news.”
“What’s going on? What’s going on?” he says in the video that his doctor filmed of the moment his mother told him he had a heart available. “They got my heart? They got my heart?”
Turner, a nurse at UNC Hospital, where her son was staying, had found out earlier in the day that the hospital finally had a heart transplant available for her son. She was at the nail salon, as per her son’s request to give him some space, when she got a call from her son telling her the nurses weren’t giving him food.
She called to figure out what was going on and the nurses told her they stopped Albert from eating because he was prepping for heart surgery. “When she said 'he’s prepping,' I lost it. I knew he had a heart,” Turner said.
A woman at the nail salon sitting next to her filmed her reaction to the phone call.
“I was screaming and crying. People who saw me were screaming and crying,” she said. “I was so overwhelmed with emotions.”
In that moment, all the doctor’s appointments, the sleepless nights and the holidays spent in the hospital meant nothing to Turner, because they were not going to “stop until he got that heart.”
At several times in Albert’s life, it appeared that the odds were against him -- going into ICU when he was 6 and 10, and going into heart failure around Christmas in 2014 -- but Turner described how his positivity helped him fight on.
“I always tell my kids not to have fear, to be strong,” she said. “This kid is the one who kept me strong.”
During this last lengthy span he was in the hospital, for 101 days and counting, he contracted double pneumonia and his kidneys started failing, but he was able to persevere, Turner said.
“All these years he took the disease like a champ,” she said.
Before the surgery on Wednesday night, Albert listened to his heart beating one last time. He underwent surgery late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. The next morning his mother recorded him waking up and saying, “I feel like a new person.”
Albert is on the road to recovery and “his heart is fully working now,” Turner said. He should be out of the hospital in the next couple of weeks, she added.
She said Albert is looking forward to going back to school, and finally getting the chance to run and play sports that he was never able to do before.
“He is my hero,” she said.