. - Friday marked the beginning of a new chapter for Brewbaker Technology Magnet School graduate Quintarius Daniels. It was just six months ago the 17-year-old underwent a bi-lateral lung transplant. Hours before graduation Daniels was all smiles even though he was experiencing a range of emotions.
"I'm nervous and excited," Daniels said.
Before heading into the Montgomery Performing Arts Center for the ceremony Daniels, with his mother's help, put on his cap and gown. It was a moment they both have waited for.
"I can't believe it. This moment actually came. It is about to be a new journey," said Daniels.
"I couldn't be more happier today than the day he was born. It is overwhelming," said Lashunda Harris, Daniels' mother.
Harris says it has been a long and hard journey to make it to this point.
"When I first figured something was wrong was when he was 15 months," said Harris.
Daniels was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis as a child. Pulmonary fibrosis is a scarring of the lung tissue that causes permanent damage to the lungs. As the scar tissue builds up and thickens, it prevents the lungs from transferring oxygen to the blood supply and diminishes the supply of healthy, oxygen-infused blood to the heart, brain and other organs. The reduced lung function makes it increasingly hard to breathe. There is no cure for pulmonary fibrosis, but certain medicines and therapies can help manage the disease.
"I used to have an oxygen tank 24/7. It was quite a challenge," Daniels said.
Just months into his senior year he got sick and his condition worsened. To provide him with a better life Daniels underwent a double lung transplant at UAB Hospital.
"It actually happened so fast. He was put on the list Nov. 13 and got his transplant Nov. 18," said Harris.
Six months to the day of his transplant, with no oxygen tank in sight, he walked across the stage to receive his diploma. He believes he wouldn't have reached this goal without his family and the support of his classmates, teachers, faculty and staff.
"They were so supportive. They were like a second family. I'm glad to have someone like them in my life," said Daniels.
With new lungs and his diploma in hand he is able to breathe easier.
"It makes me look at life more clearer and more different," he said.
And his mother and family couldn't be more proud.
"I am very, very, very, proud," said Harris.
Daniels still has to travel to Birmingham every six weeks for appointments.
He is planning to enroll with the University of Phoenix to major in Information Technology. He wants to become a video game designer.