Earlier this month, Mike Schultz and his wife Erica received amazing news: After spending 221 days on a heart transplant waiting list, their son, Ari, would receive a new heart. The video of Ari’s reaction to hearing that he’d made it to the top of the donor list gained viral traction on social media.
But last week, Ari’s health took a turn for the worse. On Thursday, his family shared a tragic update that the 5-year-old had suffered a heart attack while battling acute organ rejection following his surgery, and was put on life support.
Over the weekend, Mike Schultz posted an emotional reflection on his family’s blog in which he describes what it was like holding his son’s hand during the heart attack.
“Nobody should ever have to hold their 5-year-old’s hand through a cardiac arrest,” he began. “I am so grateful, however, that I could be there with him the whole time talking to him. I’m glad I could find the words for him, and have him to focus on me and not what was happening to him.”
At this point, Schultz notes that he is at a “loss for words” trying to grapple with the grief he is experiencing as a father.
“This just all really sucks.”
Schultz explains that even if Ari is eventually able to get off life support, “he’ll have the typical huge hills to climb coming off of a cardiac arrest and a long time sedated and tubed,” plus the lingering threats of organ rejection and a severely comprised immune system.
But as he sits beside Ari’s hospital bed in the Boston Children’s Hospital CICU with the Red Sox game on, Schultz writes that he is also at a loss for words due to “outpouring of support” that has allowed him and his wife “to focus on Ari while we also demolish and build a new house from scratch, and figure out where we, Lexi, and Eli will live.”
For those of you that have called, messaged, emailed, and sent smoke signals we really appreciate it. It’s a little hard to respond to – or even keep track of – the messages and support people have sent our way, but it’s been amazing. We read them all and it means so very much.
With Ari, the other kids, and the house, we have been lifted up by everyone. It’s awful to have to go through this – terrible to have to watch your child suffer. Yet as we go from day to day, we continue to learn so much about kindness and love.
“Our sincerest hope for Ari is that we can can spend the rest of our lives teaching him about what we’ve learned from all of you,” he concludes.
Other Must-Read Stories: