Health & Wellness

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
b88a448f4b32e91ed2aa_678e8d228d166e189871_burlew_2.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

Union

"Black History - the Musical" at Union Public Library

January 18, 2018

UNION, NJ - Looking for a way to kick off Black History month?

The Union Public Library is presenting "Black History- the Musical" on Saturday, February 3 at 3 p.m. Created by actress, playwright, and local resident Lisa G. Fleming, this live musical production takes us on a journey through American black history.

Jointly sponsored by the Union Public Library, the Union ...

A Taste of Franklin 2nd Annual Heritage Potluck

UNION, NJ - Open to the Union community, the Franklin School PTA is holding it's second annual Heritage Potluck dinner on Friday, Feb. 23, from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.

Performances by the Children of the Music Institute begins at 7:00, tasting begins at 7:45.  There will be a buffet-style sampling of delicious food and desserts representing various countries and cultures all prepared by ...

NJDOT Reps to be at Union Town Hall on Jan. 18 to Discuss Construction Plans for Rt. 22 and Morris Ave.

UNION, NJ – Plans for the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Route 22, Route 82, Garden State Parkway Interchange Improvement Project is on schedule for the Summer of 2020.  Union residents and travelers will feel the impact of the construction and temporary detours.

NJDOT representatives will be available during a Public Information Center on ...

Union High School's December Female Athlete of the Month: Shylehn Ebuenga-Smith

January 17, 2018

UNION, NJ - Shylehn Ebuenga-Smith has been chosen Union High School’s December Female Athlete of the Month, sponsored by Service Professionals.

Ebuenga-Smith, a junior, has a personal record in Winter Track and Field in the 55m race and is lead-off runner for 4x200m and 4x400m relay teams.

What’s your favorite part of being a high school athlete?

My favorite part of being a ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_b19ea19c1719cd5be602_mini_magick20180117-11108-18jvooo

Sat, January 20, 2:00 PM

Union Public Library, Union

Munchies and a Movie: "Leap" (2016)

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_5f4d0242748da5ba8200_upl_digital

Mon, January 22, 1:15 PM

Vauxhall Public Library, Vauxhall

Connect, Explore and Discover Our 24/7 Digital ...

Education

Carousel_image_6d6760daef8262bd82b0_mini_magick20180118-69339-1cg4bcl

Mon, January 22, 3:30 PM

Union Public Library, Union

Construction Zone

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_17f8c1603eadf54466b7_mini_magick20180117-11096-1p0fg9x

Mon, January 22, 6:00 PM

Vauxhall Public Library, Vauxhall

Hilton Readers Book Discussion Group: "The ...

Arts & Entertainment

Students from Union Among Those Making University of Rhode Island Dean's List

January 19, 2018

KINGSTON, RI - The University of Rhode Island is pleased to announce that 5,500 undergraduates have qualified for the fall 2017 Dean's List. The students represent nearly all of Rhode Island's cities and towns, all six New England states, New York and New Jersey, and many other states and nations.

The following students from Union have been named to URI's fall 2017 Dean's ...

Kya' Smith Named to East Stroudsburg University Dean's List

EAST STROUDSBURG, PA - Kya' Smith of Union was named to the East Stroudsburg University Fall 2017 Dean's List. Smith is a Freshman majoring in Early Childhood Educ (PreK-4).

Smith was among 1,555 students named to the Dean's List for the Fall 2017 semester of the 2017-2018 academic year, according to Joanne Bruno, J.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs. Students ...

Michael Ioannou Makes Dean's List at Lehigh University

BETHLEHEM, PA - Dean's List status, which is awarded to students who earned a scholastic average of 3.6 or better while carrying at least 12 hours of regularly graded courses, has been granted to Michael Ioannou of Union in the Fall2017 semester.

For more than 150 years, Lehigh University (lehigh.edu) has combined outstanding academic and learning opportunities with leadership in fostering ...

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano’s Celebrates Annual “Three Kings Day” at Trinitas Regional Medical Center

January 19, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ – For the eighth consecutive year, the Annual Three Kings Day Celebration was held at Trinitas Regional Medical Center to support the children of the Child/Adolescent Behavioral Health Programs.

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano’s background inspired her to bring the Three Kings Day tradition to Trinitas eight years ago. Typically celebrated on Jan. 6, but delayed this ...

Clark Man, Formerly of Plainfield, Found Dead After Ex-Girlfriend Killed in Trenton; Investigation Ongoing

CLARK, NJ — The Mercer County Prosecutor's Office is still investigating the death of Gladys Barrera, the former girlfriend of Fred Terrible, 58, who died on Jan. 3 of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound just days after Barrera was killed in Trenton on New Year’s Eve, according to Police Chief Pedro Matos.

In a post on Terrible’s Facebook page on New ...

Dog Found in Roselle Still Being Held at Newark Shelter

ROSELLE, NJ - A dog that was found on January 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 ...

Sensory Friendly Theatre Welcomes Champions of Magic this Sunday

January 19, 2018

The Sensory Friendly Theatre series is hosting a special performance of the world class illusionists, Champions of Magic this Sunday, January 21 at 2:00 p.m. at the Union County Performing Arts Center, 1601 Irving Street in Rahway. The series is sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

“Sensory Friendly Theatre offers a welcoming, non-judgmental space for children with ...

Brain Cancer Study Opens at Overlook Medical Center - One of Four Sites in Country

Kurt Jaeckle, MD, co-director of the Gerald J. Glasser Brain Tumor Center at Overlook Medical Center, and medical director of the Atlantic Center for Research, is leading a phase III study of novel drug VAL-083, which has already shown promise in Glioblastoma and other cancers.  The study is for patients whose glioblastoma multiforme or gliosarcoma has progressed during or after treatment ...

Red Cross blood shortage prompts urgent call for blood and platelet donations during National Blood Donor Month

This January, National Blood Donor Month, the American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors of all blood types to make an appointment to give now and help address a winter blood donation shortage.

Severe winter weather has had a tremendous impact on blood donations already this year, with more than 150 blood drives forced to cancel causing over 5,500 blood and platelet ...

Want a Jump Start on the New Year?

2018 Goals:

Open a BCB 18 Month CD.  Annual percentage yield 1.80%

Interest rate 1.76%

With the new year upon us, BCB is helping you get that jump start on 2018 with a high rate CD!

Invest early and watch your money grow in 2018.

For more information, just visit or call a local BCB Branch today.

Check out our website at www.bcb.bank or call 1-800-680-6872.

Columns

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 010

On this week’s AtlantiCast, we take you to the groundbreaking for an expansion to Morristown Medical Center, introduce you to the newest babies of 2018 at Atlantic Health System and share some must-see winter weather tips!

 

The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb

The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb (Atria Books, 2017)

 

Sharyn McCrumb is, quite simply, an American gem, and one of my favorite authors. From her books set in Appalachia with strange characters who remind us of our pioneer past, to St. Dale, a masterpiece about the legendary car racer, Dale Earnhardt in McCrumb's NASCAR series, McCrumb's poetic language and attention to ...

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 ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 010

On this week’s AtlantiCast, we take you to the groundbreaking for an expansion to Morristown Medical Center, introduce you to the newest babies of 2018 at Atlantic Health System and share some must-see winter weather tips!

 

Online Retailer Amazon Rejects Somerville as Potential Location for Massive “HQ2”

January 18, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Amazon released its short list of  20 potential sites to build a massive east coast headquarters Thursday, disappointing more than 200 other cities and smaller towns that had salivated over the prospect of 50,000 new jobs and billions of dollars in associated economic benefits – including Somerville.

The 20 finalists include the city of Newark; a total of 238 ...

Raccoon Attacks Hillsborough Woman and Dog Outside Residence

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ  - A raccoon attacked a 63-year-old woman and her dog a few steps outside the front door of her residence Tuesday morning, according to police.

Irene Rothschild told police she had walked out the front door of her home at 424 Bigley Road with her dog around 11 a.m. when the raccoon attacked, biting and scratching the dog.

Neighbors on social media say Rothschild went ...

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

January 17, 2018

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 ...

Letters to the Editor