New Jersey 10-year-old recovering from near-death illness on a mission to #FindTomHanks

Credit: WPIX

CEDAR GROVE, N.J. — By all accounts, Luca Sandomenico is an average 10-year-old boy. He plays little league, loves pizza and is a Chicago Bulls fan.

But last month, what started out as a low-grade fever nearly turned tragic for the young boy.

“Luca told me that he wasn’t feeling good, that he was cold and he was starting to shiver,” father PJ Sandomenico told PIX11 News in a Skype interview Thursday.

The 10-year-old from Cedar Grove was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with pneumonia.

In a matter of 48 hours, things took a turn for the worse when Luca was sedated and put on a ventilator. He was airlifted to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and spent seven days in a medically induced coma.

His father was left heartbroken.

“When we were told that there was a chance my son may not make it — it’s probably the worst feeling that a father and mother could ever feel,” PJ Sandomenico recalled. “I just felt like everything was ripped out from under me.”

The culprit, according to doctors, was acute respiratory distress syndrome, also known as ARDS, in which fluid leaks into the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.

After a suffering a few setbacks, Luca is now on the mend, and a viral sensation thanks to an exchange with his Aunt Diana after he’d woken up.

She asked him for a hug, and he was quick to respond.

“I said to give me 20 bucks,” he recounted.

When she paid him for the hug, she then asked for a second.

“I want Tom Hanks,” he responded.

He said if she wanted a hug, she needed to provide the Oscar-winning actor and the star of one of his favorite movies, “Toy Story.”

“Woody is my favorite character and he does not give up hope on anybody,” he explained.

Details of the exchange were posted on Facebook by Luca’s aunt, Diana Gaccione, and is now being widely shared using the hashtag #FindTomHanks with the hope it gets the actor’s attention, all as Luca continues down his road to recovery.

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