CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The 13-year-old Burlington boy who received a heart transplant is going home after 127 days in the hospital.
Albert Jeffries IV, who goes by Alj, was released from UNC Children's Hospital at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. His mother, Tina Turner, announced the good news in an emotional video on Facebook.
Turner said there was a biopsy done on Tuesday and there were no signs of organ rejection.
A party was held for Alj in the hospital lobby and a limousine met he and his mother outside.
Alj described how it felt when doctors told him he could finally go home. "It felt great. They said it was zero percent rejection. Zero percent!"
After spending his life in and out of hospitals, Alj just wants to enjoy being home and being like other kids his age. "When I ride my bike I get tired on my legs. But I know that’s going to change now, and I’m going to get better. I’m gonna be able to ride that bike. And run up the hill."
Turner has plans to take Alj to the beach and on a cruise. But what she really wants is to be home sweet home in Burlington. "I can’t wait to have some normalcy, you know? Can’t wait. It’s been a long time coming, and I would do it another fourteen years if I had to."
Dr. Scott Buck at UNC Children's Hospital said hospital staff from housekeeping to nurses, doctors, and the laboratory are wishing Alj all the best. "This really has been a family supporting Alj and Tina through this process and we are delighted to see him getting out of the hospital today looking so well!"
Dr. Buck said on average more than 300 children in America need heart transplants every year and thousands more wait for other organs. He hopes the community support around Alj and his story encourages people to consider being organ donors.
Jack Boyles, a Burlington police officer, owns Allure Limousine company and treated Alj and his family to a ride home from the hospital in style. "It just really moved me and really touched my heart. I wanted to do something special for him." Boyles knew Alj from teaching DARE to his classroom years ago.
Alj hopes to go back to school in May. He'll need checkups in the coming months and years to make sure the new heart is still pounding strong.
His mom continues to thank the donor family. She doesn't know anything about them but recently wrote them a letter expressing her gratitude for giving her son a second chance at life.