Two families linked by one heart

Tommy Schomaker, recipient of a heart transplant at Mott Children's Hospital

This week we’re featuring a guest blog post by Colleen Schomaker, the mother of one of our “little victors.”  The Schomaker family’s story has recently been featured in several television news segments as well as a popular blog, and we’re honored she was willing to share her thoughts with us as we celebrate the kick off to U-M’s Wolverines for Life donor drive.

My name is Colleen Schomaker and I’m proud to be a ‘Mott Mom’. Our son, Tommy is ten years old and was born at University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in December of 2000 with a serious heart defect. Since that day, Mott has been our second home. Like many Mott parents and patients, words cannot fully describe our gratitude and admiration for the wonderful staff we’ve seen over the years at Mott. (Now we get to watch this new hospital take shape, and it’s something we as patients and families feel such pride and excitement over.)

Over the last ten years, our son has endured many hospital stays, countless procedures and 5 open heart surgeries before the age of 5. Our story is long and winding, but we are blessed to have always been surrounded by a great medical team, along with amazing friends, family and a strong faith to lean on. We are also blessed that our son is still with us and presently doing quite well. On this journey we have also met countless other patients, some who have become dear friends, and we’ve watched them courageously fight their battles, but in the end have had to say goodbye to their child much too soon.

Tommy went into severe heart failure in early 2008 at the age of 8. He could not attend school, slept a lot, used a wheelchair, had to be carried up steps, and couldn’t keep food down. It was then that our cardiology team at Mott decided that, unfortunately, it was time to list him for a heart transplant. We were devastated as we tried to wrap our minds around this new reality and quickly moved into the next phase of our journey. Tommy’s chances of finding a match were low but he endured more medical therapies, 24 hour home infusions and lots of prayers and love. One year after being listed for a transplant, Tommy’s heart didn’t have much time left and the call we thought would never come…came. In the middle of the night on June 3, 2009, Tommy’s ‘gift of life’ was on its way.

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