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1 year after double hand transplant, Zion Harvey says best part is hugging his mom

The last year has been a series of firsts for Zion Harvey.
/ Source: TODAY

A year ago, Zion Harvey, 9, became the first child to receive a double hand transplant. At just 2 years old, doctors removed Harvey's hands and feet due to a life-threatening illness. Though the last year of therapy and recovery has been a "roller coaster," today, Harvey is thriving and smiling.

His favorite thing about his new hands? "Just being able to wrap them around my mom," he told Savannah Guthrie Wednesday.

The last year has been a series of celebrating firsts, from holding hands and hugging family members to throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game — a lifelong dream for Harvey.

"I'm very excited, now I can do more than I imagined," Harvey said.

It took a lot of hard work, determination and motivation for Harvey to get to where he is today. After the 11-hour surgery last summer, he has been following a rigorous therapy regimen.

No one is more proud than his mother, Pattie Ray, who could barely hold the camera straight to film Harvey throwing out the first pitch at the Orioles game.

Image: Zion Harvey
Nine-year-old Zion Harvey, the world's first child to receive a bilateral hand transplant, throws out the first pitch before the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers baseball in Baltimore, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016. Harvey, who lost his hands and feet to a serious infection has become the youngest patient to receive a double-hand transplant.Gail Burton / AP

"To see him throwing that baseball just took my heart," she said. "I didn't have a manual (for all of this), I had never been here before. As mothers, we just have to protect and fight, and that's what I've been doing."

Another one of Harvey's biggest fans? His team of doctors.

"We're so proud of him. We won to get him to this point," said Dr. Scott Levin, the director of the hand transplant program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Penn Medicine.

Here's to many more firsts for Harvey and his family!