Last weekend Aaron Tanner was clearly that guy. Blazing around the park dressed in his superhero finest, cape flying, blond hair blowing in the wind and cherub cheeks glowing, the 7-year-old enjoyed the time of his life – and rightly so. It’s been nearly two years since the sweet-faced boy with a passion for Power Rangers underwent a super heroic heart and kidney transplant. Today he has come out on the other side healthy, happy and ready to roll.
“Talk about perspective,” said Elizabeth Tanner, Aaron’s mom. “We’re just so happy with how things have turned out. Everything looks a lot brighter from this side of the street.”
The Tanners celebrated their superhero’s miraculous birthday Saturday with a superhero-themed party featuring face painting, bouncy houses, a proclamation from the mayor and visit from the pinnacle of superhero status: the Red and Green Rangers from Nickelodeon’s megahit show “The Power Rangers.”
“I can’t wait to see the Power Rangers,” said an energized Aaron as he raced around the park with his friends. “That’s what I want.”
And he didn’t need long to wait. Alex Heartman – the Red Ranger – and Hector David, Jr. arrived in street clothes laden with gifts for the galvanized birthday boy.
“We’re really happy to be here,” said Heartman, who connected with the Tanners through a mutual friend who served on Aaron’s team of medical specialists. “Aaron’s story is a pretty powerful thing.”
“We feel very blessed to be here,” added David, who along with Heartman signed autographs, posed for pictures and spent some time eating birthday cake and jumping in the bouncy houses. “This kind of thing reminds us why we do what we do.”
But for the neighbors, family and friends in attendance, no reminder was needed. Aaron’s journey riveted the community since it began in 2009, when he was placed on an organ donor list for a heart and kidney transplant. Born with a birth defect that caused his heart to function on only the right side, over the years Aaron underwent seven open-heart surgeries to correct the problem. But when doctors discovered that renal failure was putting too much pressure on Aaron’s heart, they decided he’d need a heart and kidney transplant to survive. It took a year to find a donor. During that time Aaron, then 5, endured thrice weekly kidney dialysis treatments to keep him alive.
Throughout the yearlong ordeal, the Tanners, including dad Mark and older brothers Noah and Nicholas, received an outpouring of support from friends, family and community well-wishers.
“When you look around Brentwood you see a very community-oriented town, and there’s a reason for that,” said Mayor Bob Taylor as he presented Aaron with a birthday proclamation. “This is a community that cares. A couple of years ago, things with Aaron were a little bit different, but he is a true miracle. It’s a special honor to be here today.”
While Aaron will continue to be monitored by annual checkups throughout his life, doctors have given him a clean bill health and expect the second-grader to enjoy a long and healthy life.
“We are so grateful to everyone for their love and support,” said Elizabeth. “We could never have gotten through all this without the prayers of everyone. There’s no way to ever thank people for what they have done for Aaron and our family.”