Faced with the prospect of a life without hands or feet at just two years old, this little boy continues astonishing the world.

Back in 2007, Zion Harvey’s hands, feet, and kidneys were lost to a bacterial infection known as sepsis.

Though he was able to receive a new kidney from his mother, medicine was yet to facilitate giving anyone a bilateral hand transplant.

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The cards were not in Zion’s favor.

For 6 long years he remained optimistic despite his circumstances, and in 2015 – thanks to a newly developed procedure – Zion became the first youth to be given a new pair of hands.

After completing the 11 hour procedure, it was predicted that it would take two years of intense physical therapy before Zion would gain full function of his extremities.

Just a year into his recovery, however, Zion started being able to do things like write his name, eat with a fork – and throw the opening pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game near his home in Maryland.

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Throwing that opening pitch may be the dream of many children Zion’s age, but he made it clear that the best part about his new hands is “just being able to wrap them around my mom”.

And Zion’s actions have only continued to exceed the expectations of the staff at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Since his surgery, more than 200 patients with similar circumstances have inquired about the procedure, and his never-failing optimism has lead to new studies in early childhood development of child amputees who have received transplant appendages.

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He even told Dr. Scott Levin, program director of his transplant, that he wanted to use his new hands to write the family of the donor a letter of gratitude.

He also requested that Dr. Leven refer any future to children that undergo this procedure to him, so that he can support them in their recoveries.

“Zion’s progress has been spectacular, highlighting what can be accomplished by the committed and coordinated collaborative effort amongst multi-disciplinary teams at CHOP, Penn Medicine, and Shriners Hospitals for Children,” said Scott Kozin, MD, chief of staff, Shriners Hospitals for Children—Philadelphia. “The dedication to Zion’s hand functionality and rehabilitation has expanded to the Kennedy Krieger Institute, as well the amazing community that has rallied behind Zion and his family. Their support has been instrumental to Zion’s success. Zion’s remarkable improvement, and his newly found ability to perform tasks previously unobtainable, is inspiring. Shriners Hospitals for Children is committed to continuing to advance this field and hopefully providing future children with the opportunity of this life-changing surgery.”

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