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Long Island Teenager Gets Spirited Welcome Back By His High School Following Heart Transplant

LYNBROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Not every teenager is always thrilled to go to school, but for one young man from Long Island, Tuesday had extra special meaning.

His classmates came out in force to welcome him back from heart transplant surgery, CBS2's Andrea Grymes reported.

The marching band played and the cheerleaders cheered, but this wasn't a game. It was a celebration for junior Aidan Slattery, who won a different type of battle.

"When we learned that Aidan's doctors had cleared him to return to school, we wanted to welcome him back in a big way," Lynbrook High School Principal Joseph Rainis said.

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heart transplant recipient
Heart transplant recipient Aidan Slattery, right, returned to school on Oct. 15 for the first time since his surgery. (Photo: Lynbrook High School)

Aidan arrived at the high school on Tuesday to a hero's welcome. It was his first day back in months, following a successful transplant.

"It was great. I definitely was not expecting such a big welcoming gesture from everyone," Aidan said.

The active, sports-loving student suffered from an enlarged heart his whole life. His dad said it was something they managed well for many years, until this past May.

"Unexpectedly, sometime in the early spring, he took a turn for the worse. We had to rush him to the ER and he went into heart failure," Todd Slattery said.

He credits the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for saving his son's life. Aidan had two open heart surgeries, the first, over the summer, stabilized him. The second gave him a new heart, just five weeks after going on the transplant list.

"It was definitely a rough one, but  I definitely say I'm blessed with everyone I know who has been giving me a lot of support," Aidan said.

That includes New York Islanders captain Anders Lee. Aidan was interviewed last weekend -- at his first Islanders game since the surgery.

"He was texting me back and forth wondering how I was doing, so it was definitely great to be back," Aidan said of Lee.

He was back to cheer on the Islanders and now back to hit the books. Aidan and his family said they are not only grateful for the warm welcome, but eternally grateful to his anonymous donor.

"I just want to say thank you. You made an amazing decision and it saved his life," Todd Slattery said.

That person was truly responsible for Tuesday's heartwarming moment.

Aidan's prognosis is very good. He's in physical therapy right now, but hopes to be swinging a golf club again in a few weeks. His family also hopes this story encourages people to become organ donors.

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