CAPITOL HEIGHTS, Maryland – Fifteen-year-old Amari Hall went from open-heart surgery one week to a full-on dance party the next.
The Capitol Heights, Maryland, teenager was born with a heart defect and needed a heart transplant. Amari, still hooked up to several tubes and cords, surprised his family when he busted a move right from his hospital bed.
It was only six days after his lifesaving surgery, his family said.
“All his life he has been a fighter,” his mom, Juaquinna Hall, said. “He remained positive throughout it all.”
The back story
Amari was born with a congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. He had three corrective heart surgeries by age 2.
“He missed a lot of his childhood milestones,” his mom said.
For 13 years, those surgeries held, and Amari functioned well with his repaired heart. But that changed toward the end of last year, when a visit to the cardiologist confirmed Amari’s heart had started to fail.
It was a visit to the doctor his family will never forget, not only because of the diagnosis but also because of Amari’s strength.
“He looked at me, and he said, ‘What are you afraid of? It’s my time,'” his mom said. “‘I need to have this done.'”
In December, Amari was admitted to University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, where he waited for a transplant.
There were many long days. Amari missed his friends and going to school, his mom said. Worse, the LeBron James fan was sad to have to leave his high school basketball team.
Fast forward three months to March, when doctors told Amari and his family they had found a heart. After further examination, doctors learned the heart wasn’t a match.
The family was devastated and terrified there wouldn’t be another heart.
But the very next day, doctors said it again: They’d found a match.
“(I said) ‘Please don’t tell my son,'” Hall said. “I was afraid that it wouldn’t happen.”
It did happen though. Twenty-four hours later, as he was wheeled into the operating room, Amari still wasn’t shaken.
“He made the nurses pray for him,” his aunt, Charawn Hunter, said. “He’s really strong in his faith.”
Within a week of having the surgery, Amari was back to his “cheery self,” his aunt said.
“We put the music on and he started dancing,” Hunter said.
As he danced while lying in bed, soon the nurses who had been caring for him joined in. His family clapped and cheered him on, celebrating the moment with Amari.
His aunt posted the video to Facebook. News stations picked it up and it had been viewed more than 6 million times as of Monday afternoon. She said she wanted to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation, especially in the African-American community. Without this heart, she doesn’t know where Amari would be.
“Organ donation is so important,” Hunter said. “I think that a lot of people are scared of organ donation.”
Amari was released from the hospital in mid-May, and his doctors are hopeful he can return to school in the fall.