The surgeries were over, the life-threatening condition halted, and Tommy Spiotta headed out of Stony Brook Children's Hospital Tuesday — only to find a joyful surprise.
The East Patchogue 19-year-old — a fire department explorer and Special Olympics competitor — passed through the front doors of the hospital to applause and cheers from about 50 firefighters.
Suddenly, the young man — who was described by his parents as being a bit down moments before — burst into a smile, waving to the firefighters, calling out to them and returning their cheers with his own.
"I'm going back to the fire house today," Spiotta said. "I miss everybody."
The festive mood was hard-earned by the rising senior at Bellport High School. Spiotta had won his latest bout with a potentially lethal intestinal condition, but then again, he's always been a fighter.