-- The Baltimorean who was the first U.S. child to receive a double-hand transplant celebrated the anniversary of his life-changing surgery this week.
Zion Harvey, 9, went back to visit his doctors at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia this week, a year after undergoing the breakthrough surgery. Zion lost his hands and feet after contracting a life-threatening infection as a toddler.
Though he had learned to cope, doctors wanted to give him a permanent solution, making him the youngest U.S. patient to get a double-hand transplant in an operation that took 10 hours.
Zion and his doctors recounted his recovery this week, marveling at how far he has come in being able to use his new hands.
Immediately after the surgery, Zion spent a month in the hospital as doctors tried to get him used to his new hands. Dr. L. Scott Levin, director of the Hand Transplantation Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said the boy never lost his charm or sense of humor despite the grueling therapy and rehabilitation.
"I think from an emotional standpoint he remains a remarkable young man," Levin said in a hospital video released Tuesday. "There's never been one iota of resistance or, ‘I don't feel like it today.’"
The video also shows how Zion progressed quickly, despite hurdles in his recovery. He soon was able to pick up toys and even start using scissors within months of his surgery.
Since he lost his hands at age 2, he had had little practice with how to actually use them.
"For six years of his life that part of his brain was asleep," Levin pointed out.
He was able to write a Christmas wish-list in time for the holidays and even do some arm-wrestling, Levin told ABC News.
"I [was] with him last night and while at a restaurant dinner table...he was able to pick up his bread and butter and eat it," Levin said in December. "The point is we’re seeing continued functional improvement."
Although he's just 9, Zion is already hoping that his story will help other kids who’re struggling with health problems or other difficulties.
"I got one left hand and one right hand and they can always help me when I fall down," he said in the video. "There's one thing, if any kid is watching this and you're going through a rough time, never give up on what you're doing. You'll get there eventually."
At a news conference Tuesday, Zion did bring up an activity he still hasn’t been able to do: play football.
"She won't let me try out for football," Zion, who has prosthetic feet, told reporters, referring to his mother.
When she said he could play baseball and not football, the pint-size Zion piped up, "Why not?"