Teen heart transplant recipient honored at Raleigh event

Albert "Alj" Jeffries in the hospital from a photo from the family and during Saturday night's event. Photo by Kelly Kennedy/CBS North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A Burlington teen was honored at the American Heart Association’s Triangle Heart Ball on Saturday.

Alj Jefferies departs after heart transplant. (WNCN)
PHOTOS: Al J Jeffries

Albert Jeffries or Alj, as he likes to be called, has spent his whole life battling a rare congenital heart disease, but last year he was given a second chance and new heart.

He says he’s grateful to be alive.

“We’re just honored to be here tonight and we’re glad that Alj is alive to see this moment,” Alj’s mother, Tina Turner said at the event at the Raleigh Convention Center.

Life hasn’t been easy for 14-year-old Alj Jeffries.

“I couldn’t breathe when I was running and I started getting weaker and weaker to the point where I had to stop,” said Alj.

Alj was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy when he was just four months old. A little more than a year ago Alj got his name on the transplant list.

“It was very very hard,” said Turner. “We were in the hospital almost 128 days. It was very hard.”

RELATED: NC heart transplant teen and family meet heart donor family

But all that waiting paid off and last March Alj received a new heart.

“Before I went to sleep I told the doctors around me that I had faith in them because I knew that the surgery was gonna (go) well and after the surgery I felt like a new person,” said Alj.

Since the transplant Alj says life has been better than ever.

He says he’s even thinking of trying out for basketball next year, but he says none of it would be possible without his angel.

“I would say thank you for being my miracle and thank you for giving me a second chance,” said Alj.

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