A teenage boy who had been waiting for a heart transplant since last year discovered Saturday that the organ became available when his cardiologist dressed up as a Star Wars character and revealed the news.
Austin Eggleston, 15, of Pontiac, Illinois, was born with three congenital heart defects. After it began failing, a medical team determined he would need a transplant to survive.
Dr. Phillip Thrush, a cardiologist at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, promised Eggleston that when a new heart became available, he would break the news as Chewbacca, a character from the teen’s favorite science fiction movie franchise. Eggleston underwent successful surgery Saturday night, reported WBBM, a CBS affiliate in Chicago.
Video of the doctor’s Chewbacca impersonation went viral and has garnered over 70,000 views on Facebook as of Wednesday.
“Wait…wait…wait…we got a heart? “We got a heart? Do we seriously have a heart?” Eggleston can be heard saying as he celebrates with his doctor.
“To see him knowing that he has a chance at life, that he has a chance to achieve so many things leaves you speechless,” the teen’s mother, Mary Anglin, told WLS-TV, an ABC affiliate in Chicago.
Anglin told the news outlet how grateful she was for the donor’s family.
“He will make sure that he does remarkable things because of it,” she said.
Doctors placed the teen on the list after his heart became unresponsive to treatment. After completing an evaluation for a donor, he was admitted to Lurie Children’s Hospital to prepare his body for the surgery.
“They decided because of his size, weight and nutrition levels, it would be imperative to bring him in for conditioning prior to receiving the transplant,” Anglin explained, according to Teutopolis Press.
Before leaving for the procedure, students and staff at St. Mary’s School hosted a celebratory assembly for the teen.
“We notified the school as we found things out and once the hospital gave us a date for Austin to be admitted, the school put on the pep rally,” Anglin said. “It was the perfect send-off for him, it lifted his spirits.
“It’s an odd feeling to be on the receiving end of that support because that’s what I’m used to doing. Friends, co-workers, even people we haven’t talked to in a long time are reaching out to us. Their support has made this journey as easy as possible, considering the circumstances.”