-- A teenage heart transplant survivor is enjoying viral fame after he was captured on video dancing to celebrate both his heart transplant and his hospital discharge.
Amari Hall, 15, of Capitol Heights, Maryland, received a heart transplant in March at University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
Just six days after the transplant, he surprised everyone when he began dancing in his hospital bed.
As Amari started to dance, so did the nurses, doctor and relatives who supported him and saved his life.
“I picked up my camera, I wanted to show the world what a huge heart warrior he was,” said Amari’s aunt, Charawn Hunter, who posted the video on Facebook originally to share with family around the world. "He’s like a 50-year-old man in a 15-year-old’s body. He has such a whole spirit."
Amari, who also loves to rap, had been hospitalized since December awaiting a transplant. The teenager was born with a heart defect, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, that required him to undergo four surgeries prior to his transplant.
When Amari's health began to fail last year, it was he who convinced his more nervous parents it was time to move forward with the transplant.
"He stopped me during the conversation [with doctors] and he said, ‘Wait, wait, wait. I need to ask mom something. What are you afraid of? It’s my time. I need to have this done so let’s get it over with,'" recalled Amari's mom, Juaquinna Hall. "He’s always been this fighter, this go-getter."
Amari could not walk for nearly a month after the approximately 16-hour operation and required extensive rehabilitation to regain his strength. The sight of his literally busting out of his hospital room's door May 22 to go home was even more meaningful.
Recalling the sight weeks later, Amari's mom was left speechless. And Amari lived up to his reputation by dancing his way out of the hospital, too.
"That's Amari," Hall said.
As he recovers, Amari is looking forward to a future of doing more of what he loves, dancing.
“I want to be dancing with the ladies,” said Amari, who was strong enough to take his girlfriend on a date last weekend to celebrate her birthday.
Amari will continue to be closely monitored by doctors and undergo regular heart biopsies, in addition to taking medicine to prevent his body’s immune system from rejecting his new heart.
“It is critical that Amari comply and take his immunosuppression medications for the rest of his life,” Amari’s transplant cardiologist, Carissa Baker-Smith, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in a statement. “Amari and his parents know that he has to take it every day at the right time without fail. A few days of forgetting could be life-threatening.”
The positive feedback Amari, who plans to return to high school in August, has seen on social media has also helped the teen come to terms with his life-changing and lifesaving surgery.
"He would tell me he had regrets and once said, ‘I hate that I made this decision,’ because it was three months before an organ was made available," Hall said.
"After all of this has been going on, he told [his aunt] yesterday, 'I’m glad I had my heart transplant.'"