Union County News

Union Family Meets Recipient of Son's Donated Heart

b88a448f4b32e91ed2aa_678e8d228d166e189871_burlew_2.jpg
Christine Burlew meets Jeffrey Blomkvist, the recipient of her son's donated heart, for the first time. Credits: Tapinto Union
d6d41e17c7dbf511cab3_e466c6cdbe9c2e87f73d_burlew_4.jpg
Joe Burlew meets Jeffrey Blomkvist, the recipient of his son's donated heart, for the first time. Credits: Tapinto Union
17827d0b31c515ce0942_ec96faed6871d3cfe45e_burlew_10.jpg
Photos of Joey Burlew Credits: Tapinto Union
44e123112ce6e4a86208_fde1ad9f27e2ccee37fd_burlew_1.jpg
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
26d083025b5850f4d6bb_burlew_5.jpg
3e96577b119f2c1903db_aabc558851fda3bf53d0_burlew_7.jpg
The Burlew and Blomkvist families look through Joey Burlew's scrapbook. Credits: Tapinto Union
f0bf2e268ca40a284467_9df1beb0a679f310b18f_burlew_8.jpg
Christine Burlew with Jeffrey Blomkvist, the recipient of her son's donated heart. Credits: Tapinto Union
cf6edfcac73f21b8de89_burlew_9.jpg
Christine Burlew holds Cotton, the stuffed dog containing Blomkvist's recorded heartbeat. Credits: Tapinto Union
461541c10f272b911d35_61b720cacd36bb1e014d_burlew_11.jpg
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
a56d787881c380cd266d_41ab41cdb7a88df253fb_burlew_15.jpg
Joey Burlew
afc4529dc1359fb146a9_89b98a588a81574f0770_burlew_12.jpg
Christine Burlew uses Joey Burlew's stethoscope to listen to Jeffrey Blomkvist's heartbeat. Credits: Tapinto Union
c1c9a2f614d0715114ab_burlew_13.jpg
Joe Burlew uses Joey Burlew's stethoscope to listen to Jeffrey Blomkvist's heartbeat. Credits: Tapinto Union
259d2b1f98ab60a3f767_0c876fba0849a9ba029b_burlew_14.jpg

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 of 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 Serivces 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.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Roselle/Roselle Park

Upcoming Events

Tue, January 16, 6:00 PM

Community Access Unlimited, Elizabeth

Open Auditions for Very Special "Annie, Jr."

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, January 20, 12:30 AM

Clark Public Library, Clark

North Jersey Aquarium Society Monthly Saturday ...

Home & Garden

Tue, January 23, 6:00 PM

UCEDC, Cranford

Next Level Business Planning

Business & Finance

Roselle Board of Education Seeks Resident Applicants to Fill Vacancy

January 13, 2018

ROSELLE, NJ - The Roselle Board of Education is seeking applications from residents to fill a vacancy created earlier this month with the resignation of board member Art Rice. 

Residents who would like to be considered for appointment to the seat must forward a letter of intent along with a resume by January 24, at 3 p.m. to Mr. Dorian Timmons, Board Secretary, Roselle Board of ...

Roselle Borough Holds Food Drive in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

ROSELLE, N.J. - A food drive in the honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy of giving back to the community is being held by Mayor Christine Dansereau and the Borough of Roselle. 

Residents are asked to support the local food pantries located in Roselle and Elizabeth by donating to St Joseph and Heard A.M.E. food pantries. This will help them continue to provide food items to ...

Roselle to Host Tax Reform Seminar

ROSELLE, NJ - Residents looking for information on how the federal tax reform legislation will affect them will be able to attend a special seminar on Thursday, January 11, at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Roselle Borough Hall located at 210 Chestnut Street. 

The Roselle Tax Reform Seminar, sponsored by Fifth Ward Councilman Samuel Bishop and Second Ward Councilwoman Carla Walker, will examine the ...

Roselle and Roselle Park Schools Closed on Thursday in Anticipation of Inclement Weather 

ROSELLE/ROSELLE PARK, NJ - Roselle and Roselle Park Public Schools will be closed on Thursday, Jan. 4 in anticipation of the snowstorm hitting the area Wednesday night into Thursday.

Roselle Park municipal parking lots will be open overnight for free public parking prior to the beginning of the winter storm and for 24 hours afterward. Police have issued a warning to keep vehicles off of the ...

K of C’s to Hold 6th Annual “Best Pizza Around” Tasting & Competition

ROSELLE PARK, NJ - The K of C Msgr. Loreti Council #3240 will host its sixth annual “Best Pizza Around” tasting and competition on Saturday, Jan. 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10 per person. Children ages 3 and under are free. Admission includes blind pizza tasting from area pizzerias, beverages, and dessert.

Tickets are available for purchase after all ...

Two People Injured in Ceiling Collapse at Galloping Hill Caterers

January 14, 2018

UNION, NJ - Two people were injured after the ceiling collapsed at the Galloping Hill Caterers at 5-Points on Saturday night. 

Union Fire Dept. was dispatched to the scene at approximately 11:30 p.m. On arrival, firemen discovered a 10 x 20 foot suspended ceiling had collapsed.

Fire personnel removed two people from the building. They were treated for basic injuries and transported by ...

Ocean County Freeholders Firmly Against Drilling Off the New Jersey Coast

January 15, 2018

TOMS RIVER, NJ  - The Ocean County Board of Freeholders are strongly opposed to a Trump administration plan to expand offshore oil and gas drilling to the waters of nearly every coastal state in the nation..

The proposal by the Trump Administration includes 47 potential lease sales in 25 of the 26 planning areas — 19 sales off the coast of Alaska, seven in the Pacific region, 12 in ...

Police Blotter - December 30, 2017, to January 5, 2018

January 11, 2018

ROSELLE PARK, NJ - December 30, 2017 at 11:16 p.m., Officers Jessica Diaz and William Hannon conducted a motor vehicle stop with a 2008 BMW on W. Westfield near Gordon St. for an equipment violation. 

The driver of the vehicle, Lohan Goncalves-Felix, age 22 from Newark was found to be in possession of a controlled dangerous substance, suspected (THC Oil) and drug paraphernalia.

Mark Zuckerberg Should Be Concerned About His Legacy; Punishing Legitimate Media Organizations and Small Businesses Isn’t the Answer; Regulation Is

Facebook recently announced it will be changing its feed and algorithms so that news from publishers and posts from businesses will be relegated in favor of posts about your neighbor’s cat. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook is making these changes because he is concerned about his legacy and that of the company he founded. If ...

Caring Contact crisis Line to Offer Tuesday Morning Volunteer Listening and Suicide Prevention Training

January 12, 2018

Have you ever been told you are a good listener? Do you have a yearning to really make a difference?

Crisis listening line Caring Contact will be offering its 92nd volunteer listening training beginning Tuesday, March 13. Training will run once a week 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., plus one full weekend, June 2 and June 3, and will end June 12. Training will be held at Congregation Beth Israel at 18 ...

Dog Found in Roselle Still Being Held at Newark Shelter

January 14, 2018

ROSELLE, NJ - A dog that was found on Jan. 9 is still being held at the Newark Animal Shelter because no owner has claimed him. 

Roselle Police said the dog was found in the area of the Roselle side of Warinanco Park. The dog has a distinct blue eye and brown eye. Police also said the animal was checked and had no chip or tags. 

The Newark Animal Shelter ...

Maisie Dobbs by Jacquelline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (Soho Press, 2003)

In the song “The Schuyler Sisters” from the Broadway musical Hamilton, sister Angelica sings, “ I've been reading 'Common Sense' by Thomas Paine. So men say that I'm intense or I'm insane, You want a revolution? I wanna a revelation . . .” because she and her sisters are “looking for a mind ...

The People Versus Alex Cross by James Patterson

The People Versus Alex Cross by James Patterson (Little, Brown, 2017)

 

Alex Cross, subject of James Patterson's 25th book in this venerable, fast paced detective series, is in big time trouble again. Even though his great nemesis is dead, Gary Soneji has a way of plaguing Alex from the grave, through his son, Dylan Winslow, and dastardly accomplices.

Using one of the major ...