MILWAUKEE --One year after a Wisconsin man received a heart transplant, his journey came full circle when he met his donor's family Saturday at Miller Park.
"I've been blessed with a great match," Tom Schroeder said. "It was very special, like we were soul brothers."
In need of a heart transplant last August, Schroeder spent 50 days in the hospital before doctors found a match from 32-year-old Joshua Holland. Heartache for one family became the gift of life for another.
Three months after his surgery, Tom wrote to his donor's family. He received a six-and-a-half page letter back, titled "My Heart's First Journey."
Among the many things Tom learned about Joshua, he discovered his donor was a Cubs fan. So it seemed only fitting that a year later, Tom — a Brewers fan — would meet Joshua's family at Miller Park ahead of Saturday's Brewers-Cubs game.
They set aside a storied rivalry to enjoy a new, lifelong bond.
"I'll be watching the game with my new family," Schroeder said.
Joshua's niece Jerzie Wilkerson joined Schroeder to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. She threw to Craig Counsell, Schroeder, to Joe Madden.
"He's embodying my uncle... I see my uncle in him," Wilkerson said.
"It's incredibly touching and to be honest, I've never seen that in all of my training. For the donor family to be reunited with the recipient," said Dr. Eric Weiss, heart surgeon.