CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – A 13-year-old boy left the UNC Children’s Hospital to cheers and hugs – and a limousine ride – Wednesday after spending months in the hospital for a heart transplant.
His mother, Tina Turner, was ecstatic as her son, Al J Jefferies, left the hospital with many staff and friends waiting to wish him well after an extensive hospital stay.
Turner said Al J could only do half a lap after getting out of ICU. Now, she said, doctors want him to do six laps as he builds up the new heart.
Al J – pronounced “al-JAY” – said he had heard his original heart before the transplant, and he knew it was weak.
Now, he said of the new heart, “I didn’t hear it but I did feel it.
Also strong is his desire to enjoy his life as he returns home.
“I’m going to enjoy life when I go home,” he said. “Whatever I’m going to do.”
Al J wore a mask when he left the hospital to protect his immune system and make sure he didn’t get germs.
But when he got into the limo, he took the mask off and flashed a huge smile as he, finally, headed toward home.
A charity bike ride to raise money to help Al J and his family will be held April 16 at noon at the Hawg Pen at 900 Hodges Street in Raleigh. The cost is $10 per ride and donations can be made at TeamAlJ.com. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.