Heroes

Meet the incredible 8-year-old who just got two brand-new REAL hands.

He lost both his hands and feet after a childhood infection almost took his life. Now an incredible surgery has 8-year-old Zion making history.

Meet the incredible 8-year-old who just got two brand-new REAL hands.

8-year-old Zion's hands were amputated after a childhood infection. But that hasn't stopped him from being a happy or healthy kid.


GIF via NBC News.

Playing guitar? Check. Video games? Check. Hide-and-seek with his little sister? You got it. And while that sounds pretty average, for Zion it's kind of extraordinary. That's because at 2 years old, Zion had his hands and feet amputated following a life-threatening infection. Then, he underwent a kidney transplant. That's a heck of a lot of surgery for a little kid. But today he lives a pretty normal life, and all with a big smile on his face.

GIF via NBC News.

Now Zion's making history as the world's first double hand transplant patient.

GIF via NBC News.

Wait. A double hand transplant?! Yup. 40 surgeons, including 10 hand specialists, worked over a painstaking 11 hours to give Zion two brand-new hands. And unlike expensive prosthetics that have to be upgraded and refitted every few years, Zion's hands will grow with him.

Even though the surgery was a success, there's still lots of work to be done. Hand transplants require a lifetime of special care, medicines, and physical therapy. And, according to the Mayo Clinic, success is not guaranteed.

GIF via NBC News.

Even though Zion's hands are still pretty new, he already has big plans. Like picking up his little sister.

image from NBC News.

Despite the challenges ahead, Zion has his eyes on the prize. When asked what he's most looking forward to once his recovery is over, he had this to say:

"Pick up my little sister from daycare, and wait for her to run in to my hands and I pick her up and spin her around."

Do you hear that? That's my lonely, only-child heart melting. Hey Zion, if you're ever in the market for a big sister, I'm right here.

GIF from "Kristen Bell's Sloth Meltdown"

The most exciting thing about Zion's story? It doesn't end with him. His historic double hand transplant is only the beginning.

Because he's the first, doctors and physical therapists will be closely monitoring his progress as he heals and learns how to use his new hands. Just think: A few years from now, multiple limb transplants will be old news, as more and more people benefit from this incredible technology.

Courtesy of Creative Commons
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Terence Power / TikTok

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Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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