Teen who got transplant news in viral Chewbacca video thriving after surgery


CHICAGO — The Illinois teen who learned he’d be getting a new heart in a viral Chewbacca video is healing well and ready to head home.

Austin Eggelston, 15, was born with three congenital heart defects. By last fall, he’d had five open-heart surgeries and four pacemakers — but doctors said he would ultimately need a heart transplant to survive.

The Pontiac, Ill., teen was transferred to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where he awaited his fate.

On Halloween, cardiologist Phil Thrush dressed as Chewbacca and promised Austin he’d don the costume again when there was a heart waiting for the boy. Austin is a huge Star Wars fan.

So when Thrush came into Austin’s room on St. Patrick’s Day, the boy knew it could only mean one thing. In a video that went viral, Austin yelled, “holy balls,” and jumped for joy. The video got nearly 700,000 hits on social media.

Now, nearly two weeks later, Austin is able to walk and looks forward to his release from the hospital. He’s an eighth grader who cannot wait to learn how to drive.

“This gives me a chance to live a normal life,” Austin told WGN’s Dana Rebik. “I’m going to be able to graduate. I’m going to be able to do all the things teenagers should be able to do now.”

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