Health & Wellness

Union Family Meets Recipient of Son's Donated Heart

Christine Burlew meets Jeffrey Blomkvist, the recipient of her son's donated heart, for the first time. Credits: Tapinto Union
Joe Burlew meets Jeffrey Blomkvist, the recipient of his son's donated heart, for the first time. Credits: Tapinto Union
Photos of Joey Burlew Credits: Tapinto Union
Christine Burlew meets Jeffrey Blomkvist, the recipient of her son's donated heart, for the first time, with his wife Melissa and three daughters. Credits: Tapinto Union
The Burlew and Blomkvist families look through Joey Burlew's scrapbook. Credits: Tapinto Union
Christine Burlew with Jeffrey Blomkvist, the recipient of her son's donated heart. Credits: Tapinto Union
Christine Burlew holds Cotton, the stuffed dog containing Blomkvist's recorded heartbeat. Credits: Tapinto Union
Joe and Christine Burlew present Jeffrey Blomkvist and his wife Melissa a heart made of the material from a shirt of Joey Burlew's Credits: Tapinto Union
Joey Burlew
Christine Burlew uses Joey Burlew's stethoscope to listen to Jeffrey Blomkvist's heartbeat. Credits: Tapinto Union
Joe Burlew uses Joey Burlew's stethoscope to listen to Jeffrey Blomkvist's heartbeat. Credits: Tapinto Union

UNION, NJ – Joey Burlew was just 28-years old when he died suddenly in March 2016.  Jeffrey Blomkvist was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect at 40-years old and placed on a donor list in 2014.

On March 7, 2016, Blomkvist received Burlew’s heart during a transplant procedure at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. 

This Sunday, in an emotional meeting, Burlew’s parents, daughter, and niece got the chance to meet Blomkvist and his family in person for the first time.

Sign Up for E-News

Before the meeting, Joey’s mother Christine of Union said, “I’m nervous, but Joey’s living on.”  She said she has spoken and emailed several times with Blomkvist of Asbury, NJ.  “He is extremely grateful,” Christine said.  “This meeting is for both of us.  I think he wants to hear that it’s ok that he goes on.”

When Blomkvist entered the room at the New Jersey Sharing Network in New Providence, there were tears and hugs all around.  Blomkvist, 46, was accompanied by his wife Melissa and three teenage daughters. 

Christine said Burlew saved six lives by donating his heart, liver, both kidneys, and both lungs.  She said she wrote letters to all six recipients via the New Jersey Sharing Network.  An exchange of correspondence and phone calls then ensued between Christine and Blomkvist. 

“You saved him,” said Blomkvist’s wife Melissa to the Burlews, “but you saved all of us,”  Melissa said Blomkvist honors, Joey, every day.  “Every single day.  He really does.”

“I feel like I’m living for two,” said Blomkvist.

Blomkvist and his wife presented Christine and Joe a gift -- a stuffed dog named Cotton, with a chip inside that plays the recorded heartbeat of Blomkvist.  Cotton was Burlew’s dog, now living with his parents.   

Blomkvist also presented a framed photo of his extended family to the Burlew’s.  “This is just a testament to how much joy Joey brings us,” he said.

Christine and Joe presented Blomkvist with a stuffed heart made of material from one of Joey’s shirts.  “We’ll keep this on our bed always,” said Melissa.

Blomkvist was on an LVAD, a surgically implanted mechanical pump attached to his heart, for 15 months prior to the transplant.  Melissa said when they first heard that a heart had become available, “the first thing I thought of was that because he’s getting this, someone is losing their life.  And you can’t lose sight of that.”  Melissa said the family thinks about that all of the time.  “It’s not taken for granted.  It’s not taken lightly.  The ripple effort is tremendous.”

Blomkvist and his wife said the transplant surgery took many hours and was difficult because of Blomkvist’s previous heart surgeries.  When the surgeon came out, he said there were some complications, but “the heart is beautiful.”  According to Blomkvist, he is now doing great.

Linda Woznicki, Family Services Coordinator at the New Jersey Sharing Network, said of the six donations Burlew provided all had “immediate function”, meaning they were all immediately successful.

Christine said Joey was an EMT in Bayonne and was named EMT of the Year in 2008 for his bravery during the rescue of a woman who drove into the Newark Bay that year.  His daughter Airyana is now 10 years old.  Christina recounted the day he passed his driver’s test when he was 17 and called to tell her that he signed up to be an organ donor.  “That’s great,” Christine had said.  “Did you pass your test?”

Christine showed the Blomkvist’s a scrapbook of newspaper and magazine articles about the 2008 rescue, titled 'Lucky to be Alive'.  “I put this together for him as a Christmas gift in 2015,” she said.  “Just a few months before he died.”

“Joey can live on and still make people happy,” Christine said.

TAPintoElizabeth.net is Elizabeth’s free daily news source. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TAPElizabeth and Twitter @TAPElizabeth. 

 

Download the TAPinto App!   Click here for Android.  Click here for iOS.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Elizabeth

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_ec60039a423eee95393a_scan_0005

Sat, November 25, 10:00 AM

Roselle Park Knights of Columbus #3240 at the Church of the Assumption, Roselle Park

Blood Drive in Roselle Park

Sun, November 26, 3:00 PM

The Snyder Academy of Elizabethtown, Elizabeth

Actors Shakespeare Company presents A Christmas ...

Arts & Entertainment

Tue, November 28, 5:00 PM

Center for Hope Hospice, administration building, Scotch Plains

“VA Benefits for Long Term Care” -- CEU seminar ...

Health & Wellness Other

Local Humanitarians Partner with Community Food Bank of New Jersey to Distribute Turkeys to Those in Need in Elizabeth

November 20, 2017

ELIZABETH, NJ--When James Carey, the Director of Social Services for the Elizabethport Presbyterian Center Inc., received a phone call from the Community Food Bank of New Jersey informing him they were donating 200 turkeys to his agency, he replied, "I'm going to distribute the turkeys to all the parents and staff members at the Early Childhood School and whatever's left over, ...

Elizabeth Football and Cheer Program Seeks Community Support to Raise Funds for 2017 National Cheer & Dance Competition

ELIZABETH, NJ—A local, long-standing program in Elizabeth has the opportunity to compete in the 2017 National Cheer & Dance Competition in Orlando and they are seeking donations from the community to make it happen.

The Football and Cheer Program is a part of PAL (Police Athletic League). Elizabeth PAL was started in 1947 by a group of caring police officers that wanted to make a ...

Tree-Lighting Ceremony to Kick-Off Holiday Festivities -Santa Comes to Elizabeth

ELIZABETH, N.J.--It’s that time of the year, twinkling lights, festive decorations and a chance to visit with the most important guy in a red suit you’ll ever meet.

The Elizabeth Avenue Partnership (EAP) has announced the lineup of holiday events on Elizabeth Avenue this season starting with the Official Tree-Lighting Ceremony at Union Square Plaza on Tuesday, November 28 from ...

Learn How to Defend Against Cyber Bullies

Springfield, N.J.--With the continued rise of social media, an alarming number of children and teens are targets of online bullying. To learn more about cyberbullying tactics and how to fight back against them, parents and caregivers are invited to attend “Bullying & Our Children,” a free public discussion.

This special presentation will be held on Monday, November 27, from ...

Trinitas Regional Medical Center Seeks Level II Trauma Center Designation

Elizabeth, N.J.--Trinitas Regional Medical Center is seeking formal Level II Trauma Center designation in response to the first official trauma call by the New Jersey Department of Health DOH in nearly 20 years.  The Medical Center will submit its application to the DOH this week.

According to Gary S. Horan, FACHE, Trinitas President & CEO, the state of New Jersey has an excellent ...

Redesigned Elizabeth Train Station on Hold-Mayor Says Fire NJ Transit Executives

November 10, 2017

ELIZABETH, NJ—The Governor-Elect already has a decision to make on his first day in office.

Mayor J. Christian Bollwage is calling upon the Governor-Elect to remove the New Jersey Transit Executive Team of their positions and appoint pro-active, capable individuals, who are in favor of rail improvements. The Mayor has requested that this action be taken in response to New Jersey ...

Fanwood Police Officer with Law Enforcement Team in Puerto Rico Finds Misery and Optimism

November 11, 2017

FANWOOD, NJ -- Like many other visitors to post-hurricane Puerto Rico, Fanwood Police Officer Elliott Bernard says the images seen on TV and online simply don’t capture the enormity of the damage, even two months after the storm. Roads with giant fissures, downed utility poles, epic food and water shortages and the lack of power make day to day life exhausting.

“Every day, you ...

A Christmas Carol, the Musical Dancing into Cranford

November 20, 2017

Broadway Version of A Christmas Carol Coming to CDC Theatre in Cranford Ebenezer Scrooge and his ghostly encounters will come to life at CDC Theatre beginning December 8.

Written and scored by Broadway heavy hitters, Alan Menken (Disney's Beauty and the Beast,Disney's The Little Mermaid, Little Shop of Horrors) and Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime, Seussical, Once on This Island), A Christmas ...

The Two Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman (St. Martins Griffin, 2016)

 

Author Lynda Cohen Loigman states, “The Two-Family House is a story I thought about for at least ten years before I ever wrote a word. I spent countless hours over a full decade thinking about how Rose, Helen, Abe, and Mort would behave in difficult situations, and how they would feel when faced with ...

Sustained, Severe Cuts Equal Setbacks at NJ Department of Environmental Protection

November 8, 2017

Trenton, N.J.--Long-term budget and staff cuts have severely impacted the ability of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to carry out critical work to protect New Jersey’s environment and residents. This has serious implications for wildlife, public health, and our economy. DEP is charged with managing and protecting the State’s environment and natural ...