A young Red Sox fan who successfully survived a heart transplant and received the thrill of a lifetime by meeting two of his favorite players has passed away.The family of 5-year-old Ari Schultz announced his passing Friday via a post on Facebook. Schultz was taken to a Boston-area hospital and
A young Red Sox fan who successfully survived a heart transplant and received the thrill of a lifetime by meeting two of his favorite players has passed away.
The family of 5-year-old Ari Schultz announced his passing Friday via a post on Facebook. Schultz was taken to a Boston-area hospital and placed on life support early Thursday morning after suffering a seizure.
"Ari passed away peacefully this evening listening to the Red Sox," Schultz's family said.
Schultz was able to come home last month after spending 189 consecutive days in the hospital waiting for his new heart, then undergoing three open-heart surgeries and battling several complications after receiving his transplant. Schultz's family home also had to be torn down on account of mold, meaning his return "home" in June was to a rental property.
Still, Schultz never let those tough circumstances stand in the way of his intense love for his favorite team. Upon learning that he'd be leaving the hospital for the first time in more than half a year, Schultz celebrated by wearing a Xander Bogaerts jersey and pretended to hit a home run for the Red Sox.
One can imagine Schultz's excitement when he actually got a once-in-a-lifetime visit from Bogaerts and Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez, which the family posted to YouTube on Thursday. The team had also invited Schultz to throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park before its game on Aug. 27.
"Some fans make an instant impact on our team," read a tweet from the Red Sox's official Twitter account. "Ari Schultz, with his optimism & unbridled excitement, is at the top. We'll miss you, Ari."
Bogaerts described Schultz as "the most upbeat kid I've met, especially the situation he was in."
"That's probably one of the toughest things you can hear, especially because me and Vazqy were just with him a few days ago," Bogaerts said in reaction to Schultz's passing. "It happened so quick. It's really shocking."
Schultz was diagnosed with critical aortic stenosis and evolving hypoplastic left heart syndrome at his 18-week ultrasound. More information can be found at the family's website, echoofhope.org.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.