Toddler with terminal disease gets second chance at life after rare surgery

Toddler with terminal disease gets second chance at life after rare surgery

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Doctors performed a first-of-its-kind surgery on an 18-month-old boy, who had a rare lung disease.

Justin Oliver, who had a double lung transplant at Texas Children’s Hospital, returned to Charlotte on Friday afternoon.

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"(He had) 48 hours to live, and now he's running around the airport, so God is truly good," his grandmother, Brenda Foster, said.

Justin, who also goes by Big Duce, was greeted at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport by caring community members.

"Oh, it feels fantastic, you just don't know,” said Artez Watts, a community member. “We've been in constant contact."

Over the summer, Big Duce contracted the rare disease where only two in 1 million children get it and it's almost always fatal.

Doctors in Houston saved his life using a medical procedure that has never been tried before.

"You don't know me, but we've been praying for you,” Watts said to the boy. Oh, my goodness."

"He had a good flight. He played. He sang," Foster said.

Big Duce has made a lot of friends, including Channel 9.

Reporter Glenn Counts, who was at the homecoming, knew Big Duce liked Disney and gave him Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck stuffed animals.

"First, I want to thank God and then, I want to thank everybody for their support," Foster said.

Big Duce's prognosis is quite good.

He will have to return to Houston for checkups every three months, but he should have a normal life and even play sports.