Chewbacca Tells Patient He’s Getting A New Heart

Months ago when Austin Eggleston, 15, was listed for a heart transplant, Dr. Philip Thrush, Cardiologist at Lurie Children’s, promised he would deliver the news a heart was available dressed as Chewbacca.

Born with three congenital heart defects, Austin had undergone five open heart surgeries and four pacemakers in order to keep his heart functioning. In late October 2017, it was determined that Austin would need a heart transplant to survive. In early November, Austin was transferred and admitted to the Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit at Lurie Children’s and began his wait for a new heart.

Austin and Dr. Philip Thrush after Austin’s heart transplant surgeryWaiting for a new heart for four months was sometimes extremely hard both mentally and emotionally. “We had some deep, dark conversations,” says his mother, Mary Anglin. “At the age of 15 you understand what’s going on.”

On March 17, after waiting four months on the transplant list, a donor heart became available and the moment Chewbacca aka Dr. Thrush delivered the news to Austin was captured on video. The appropriate response from the teen, “Wait. Wait. We got a heart? Do we seriously have a heart?” Austin said. “Holy balls!”

The transplant surgery was successful and now Austin hopes to return to school and resume life as normal. As normal as it can be, he says since, “90 percent of the world has now seen me in my boxers.”

Austin and his family are forever grateful to the donor family who gifted Austin life and hopes that Austin’s story can bring awareness for others to register to become organ donors.

Pediatric Heart Failure & Transplantation

Lurie Children’s (formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital) performed Illinois’ first pediatric heart transplant in 1988. Our P​ediatric Heart Failure and Heart Transplantation Program, the only program of its kind in the state and the second largest pediatric heart transplant program in the country, is widely known for its abilities to provide lifesaving treatment to infants, children and young adults with severe heart disease.

Despite the complexity of our patients’ conditions, our patient outcomes are better than national averages for pediatric transplant centers. Specifically, our three-year survival rates for patients and the graft (new heart) are above 90%, compared with the 83% national average.

Lurie Children’s Heart Center is ranked #3 for children’s hospitals in the country according to USNews & World Report.

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