Austin Eggelston and his cardiologist share a great friendship. It started when Austin’s health began to worsen due to his heart defects. He was born with three of them, and the doctors were certain that he would need to have a heart transplant if he was going to live. At just 15 years old, the news that Austin was added to the heart transplant list was tough for him and his family.
Austin was transferred to Chicago’s Ann and Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital to wait for a new heart to become available from a donor. It took five long months. Austin waited patiently for better news to come to him. He told the Pontiac Daily Leader that he was “pretty nervous”, but that he was planning to enjoy being out of school.
While he was waiting in the hospital unit along with the other young people also waiting there, Austin discovered something serendipitous. One of the other doctors there dressed up as Chewbacca for another patient. When Austin, a huge Star Wars fan, saw that, he learned that his cardiologist, Dr. Philip Thrush, was just as excited about Chewbacca as he was. Turns out they both are huge Chewbacca fans. That’s when Austin asked Dr. Thrush that if a heart became ready, Thrush would dress as Chewbacca to tell him.
The big day just happened to arrive on St. Patrick’s Day. Austin was in his hospital bed attached to his life support equipment. A Wookie warrior arrived in his room. Austin saw the Wookie and quickly realized that Dr. Thrush was there with the good news. Austin knew immediately what that Chewbacca costume meant, and what Dr. Thrush had to tell him. The holiday became an unexpectedly special day for Austin.
The young man from Pontiac, Illinois had his amazing Star Wars moment when Dr. Thrush arrived in his room that day. Dr. Thrush just happens to speak Wookie fluently. The video of their magical encounter has been seen on Facebook more than 70,000 times. After all- how many cardiologists speak Wookie?
Now, Austin has had his heart transplant, and he is successfully recovering from the difficult surgery. Austin is now known as “the Mayor of the 16th Floor”. He’s taken on the task of improving the hospital environment for the young people there. He’d earned his honorary title when he used his personal Twitter account to ask Marvel to arrange a screen Avengers: Infinity War at the hospital because the children there were too ill to go to the movie theaters to see it. He also started a social media campaign to get Marvel, ABC7 and the Walt Disney Company to notice the hospital children’s requests. Anyone on Twitter can join in @TheReelThanos.
When his mother, Mary Anglin, was interviewed on ABC 7, she told the public that Austin was the happiest because he was offered the chance to live. Anglin thanked the family who donated the heart in an act of courage while filled with incredible grief. She was understandably overwhelmed with this opportunity for her son and was certain that Austin was the kind of person who would be certain to accomplish “remarkable things” because he had been given a new chance at life.