A local varsity hockey team sent off their teammate with their own honor guard, holding their hockey sticks in the air as A.J. Quetta left Massachusetts General Hospital for a rehabilitation center in Georgia on Tuesday morning.
Quetta, a senior at Bishop Feehan High School in Attleboro, underwent surgery for a spinal cord injury after he slammed head-first into the boards during a game against Pope Francis School in Springfield on Jan. 26. He was scheduled to be flown by medical helicopter to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta on Tuesday.
The Shepherd Center said Quetta was admitted to the intensive care unit and would soon move to the spinal cord injury rehabilitation program where he will begin therapy under the guidance of a full team of medical and rehabilitation specialists.
"Medical and rehabilitation teams at Shepherd Center typically include the following: an attending physician, nurses, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech language pathologist, recreation therapist, case manager, peer support specialist, dietitian, psychologist and chaplain," the facility said in a statement.
The Quetta family has said on multiple occasions they are grateful for the excellent care the teen received while at Mass. General. It was MGH that referred Quetta and his family to the facility.
The Shepherd Center is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 10 rehabilitation facilities in the nation.
Quetta's brothers on the ice stood in solidarity in the rain and cold as Quetta was being wheeled out of the hospital Tuesday morning. His teammates donned their green away jerseys in a symbolic gesture to show they are still with him while he's on the road to recovery in Atlanta.
When he returns, they plan to welcome him in their white home jerseys.
"He's been in good spirits, and we're just really excited to be able to see him before he goes off to Atlanta," one teammate said.
Quetta's family thanked the "AMAZING" team at Massachusetts General Hospital, saying they could not have gotten to this point without all of the hospital's support.
"Thank you to the Angels of MGH PICU!," Quetta's family said.
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The family said they are also grateful for the outpouring of support they have received since Quetta was injured, including from the Boston Bruins. The team shared on Twitter Monday that the 50/50 raffle it is holding for Quetta had hit $300,000 -- the largest jackpot ever.
The Greg Hill Foundation, which is also raising money for the family to help pay for medical expenses, received a donation from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft for $25,000. The fund had raised over $150,000 as of Tuesday morning.
Quetta's teammates also made a compilation video, posted on YouTube, in which they each hold up a sign with a word that they chose to best describe A.J., among them "electric," "hard-working," and "dependable."