Teen from Africa celebrating 1st Thanksgiving after life-saving surgery on Long Island

ROSLYN, Long Island (WABC) -- There was a special celebration Tuesday for a 14-year-old boy from West Africa who has a new lease on life after a groundbreaking surgery on Long Island.

Ambrus Correa might be from Gambia, but he will be celebrating his first Thanksgiving surrounded by the medical staff who saved his life.

The aspiring soccer star has a lot to be thankful for after a life-threatening heart defect was repaired, making it possible for him to once again play his favorite sport of soccer.

Correa was born with a hole in his heart that restricted blood circulation to his lungs, leading to shortness of breath and asthma. This made it difficult for him to play sports and run like other children his age.

Using a catheter-based titanium device inserted through a blood vessel in the leg, Dr. Sean Levchuck, chairman of Pediatric Cardiology at St. Francis Hospital in Rosyln, was able to plug up the hole in his heart.

After the successful procedure, doctors say Correa will be able to lead a normal life. And his father, Simon Correa, said the surgery fixed a hole in his heart as well.

"It's emotional, because I felt like it is almost in me," he said through tears. "So this is unbearable that I feel it so much."

Dr. Levchuck has donated his services to perform hundreds of life-saving surgeries on children around the world.

Along with humanitarian efforts by the Gift of Life International and the Nicholas J. Vizza Fund, Correa and his family were able to travel to New York to receive the procedure.

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