ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -- After countless hours of studying, students of Eagle River High School in Anchorage, Alaska received their diplomas last Tuesday.
But for graduating senior Shawn Stockwell, the hardest tests of his life were nowhere near the classroom.
Stockwell was born with a life-threatening heart defect known as hypo-plastic left heart syndrome. His mother, Trista Stockwell, said the condition was so serious, she was told by multiple doctors her son had a small chance of survival.
“We had never imagined our son would graduate high school, ever,” she said, who found herself crying during the ceremony as her mind flashed back to memories of hospitals and ambulance rides.
More than a decade ago, Stockwell and his mom went to California in hopes of receiving a heart transplant. The donation didn’t come fast, but eventually Stockwell received a healthy heart from a seven-year-old boy named Carson Bosley, who died of a brain aneurysm.
The donation was a risky operation but ultimately successful.
It was a slow road to recovery, with some health scares throughout his high school career, but Stockwell’s heart is reported to be beating healthy. It’s exciting news for not only Stockwell’s parents, but also the parents of Carson Bosley, who decided to make their first trip up to Alaska to see Stockwell graduate.
“We miss him everyday,” Jamie Bosley said about his son, Carson. “This helps pass along his legacy and keeping that memory alive, so it's very special to us.”
Jamie and Kelly Bosley were allowed the opportunity to help hand Stockwell his diploma on stage in the Sullivan Arena.
Stockwell said, he met the Bosleys for the first time last year, and couldn't be happier they want to be a part of his family.
“We look forward to following him for the rest of his life,” said Bosley.
“We are forever grateful to the Bosley family,” said Trista Stockwell. “They are our true heroes, and Carson will forever live on.”
Stockwell said he's not done with school yet. He's heading to college to be a social worker. His mom said Stockwell spent so much time in hospitals, he now wants to one day help sick children live a better life.