By Annie Reuter
There’s no denying that music has the power to heal, but do the musicians themselves have the ability to heal the sick? It seems so in the case of Macklemore.
In November, six-year-old AJ Hwangbo was diagnosed with acute viral myocarditis — an inflammation of the heart’s muscle wall that can weaken a child’s heart. Hwangbo was taken to Seattle Children’s Hospital where he was treated and grew stronger but emotionally he continued to deteriorate and wouldn’t eat or smile.
“Most of the time he would look right through me,” his mother Yoo-Lee Yea said in a hospital statement. “We didn’t know what was going on in his psyche.”
Alisa Van Cleave, MD, an advanced care specialist, worked with the family to help AJ recover emotionally. She learned his favorite artist was Macklemore and when a donor gave the hospital two tickets to Macklemore’s sold-out concert she offered them to his family.
The hospital then went one step further and contacted Macklemore’s team to set him up with backstage passes.
“It was such a great experience,” his mom said. “Macklemore and his fiancé were so kind and gentle with him. They gave him gifts and joked with him. Macklemore even told AJ that he was planning a surprise visit to the hospital so he would see him again soon.”
The day after the show, AJ’s behavior shifted and he started speaking and feeding himself. Macklemore even kept his word and visited AJ again at the hospital last month.
On Dec. 18, AJ was discharged and doctors are confident he will make a full recovery. His mother is certain that his visit with Macklemore caused his mental healing.
In a tweet from yesterday (Jan. 7), Macklemore takes no credit for the boy’s improvement, but did attribute the unexplained miracle to being a “pretty incredible story.”
“I don’t take credit for anything,” Macklemore wrote. “I’m just grateful we crossed paths.”