Health & Wellness

Emotional Meeting at NJ Sharing Network Bonds Donor Family and Organ Recipient

1501ea6ddb1ecd140a12_IMG_3742.JPG
Organ donor and recipient families form bond after meeting. Robert Fisher received the heart and kidney from Nolman Rodriguez in 2016, Credits: Bobbie Peer
6dc6b8a307dade19b506_IMG_0607.JPG
Family hears heartbeat of their brother inside recipient at a reunion meeting on Saturday at NJ Sharing Network. Credits: NJ Sharing Network
15e6d619aebe066d0b22_IMG_0627.JPG
Family hears heartbeat of their brother inside recipient at a reunion meeting on Saturday at NJ Sharing Network. Credits: NJ Sharing Network
528dd22cccf886eeeffb_IMG_3739.JPG
Immediate bond between donor family after meeting recipient of brother's heart. Credits: Bobbie Peer
5a7b4cf99a546bfc3e5a_IMG_0635.JPG
The recipient and donor families have a lasting bond after meeting. Credits: NJ Sharing Network
d3be3f9f571e9de9d0f8_IMG_3635.JPG
Sister of organ donor anticipates the meeting of the recipient. Credits: Bobbie Peer
e097f648cb8582ae7651_IMG_3636.JPG
Credits: Bobbie Peer
500403bf6a876a45b977_IMG_3638.JPG
Credits: Bobbie Peer
f3af6f6a61e0787b4a38_IMG_3643.JPG
Credits: Bobbie Peer
7d906059b00bc26d2b01_IMG_3647.JPG
751124b5902be197ecdd_IMG_0552.JPG
Credits: NJ Sharing Network
5789539426cc05aece2a_IMG_3660.JPG
Credits: Bobbie Peer
d73566d336dc86aaa3c1_IMG_3661.JPG
Robert Fisher's family is no stranger to organ and tissue donation, his father-in-law was a tissue donor and his sister-in-law was both an organ and tissue donor. Credits: Bobbie Peer
9550794f549f8d3298f9_IMG_3779.JPG
The families wrote on a stone to place in the garden at NJ Sharing Network in memory of Nolman. Credits: Bobbie Peer
6839289dc2e55ee79cdd_IMG_3673.JPG
Robert Fisher gave Rocelia a teddy bear to give to her mother in Honduras so she can hear her son's heartbeat every day. Credits: Bobbie Peer
c7036388729ee7cd2da4_IMG_3675.JPG
Credits: Bobbie Peer
e6e946f00a1cd81148cf_IMG_0569.JPG
Credits: NJ Sharing Network
639b7783284b62c7f8d0_IMG_3679.JPG
96151c6ea6dfb50a5f53_IMG_3682.JPG
d1c5506cf13fe235f958_IMG_3692.JPG
344f2475cbcfdc81a3b1_IMG_3714.JPG
0cd82eca1eefba3c7f20_IMG_3728.JPG
3df6cc742343bdec9d65_IMG_3745.JPG
46c7481028ff10771b68_IMG_3750.JPG
90a1058712761d69460a_IMG_3751.JPG
430e67f2ef083be57cc6_IMG_3754.JPG
fc411b811b21274fc97f_IMG_3759.JPG
0914f040dabd6b25429e_IMG_3767.JPG
bd311fb3cf6c16ca882d_IMG_3770.JPG
f61a5188d70601074f67_IMG_3782.JPG
Nolman's nephew wrote a message on a stone to place in the garden at NJ Sharing Network. Credits: Bobbie Peer
a1ce965b07a8485120c1_IMG_3786.JPG
The family was able to share photos and past memories of Nolman. Credits: Bobbie Peer
d35860424916421b0f03_IMG_0588.JPG
Credits: NJ Sharing Network
2c6f03bb7746ce6ca381_IMG_0601.JPG
Credits: NJ Sharing Network
1774e0526057273960e8_FullSizeRender.jpg
The families place stones in memory of Nolman in the meditation garden at NJ Sharing Network. Credits: Bobbie Peer
1501ea6ddb1ecd140a12_IMG_3742.JPG

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ — The Rodriguez family anxiously waited to meet Robert Fisher Saturday at the NJ Sharing Network in New Providence. 

When Nolman Vidal Rodriguez of Trenton died in 2016 at the age of 24, his family donated his kidneys, pancreas, liver, both lungs, heart and corneas. Fisher, who lives in Ocean Gate, NJ, was the recipient of Nolman’s heart and one kidney. 

When Fisher and his family walked through the door, he immediately embraced Nolman’s sister Rocelia, who sobbed in his arms. He assured her that her brother was with them.  

Sign Up for E-News

“He’s here, he’s here,” he said, while hugging members of the Rodriguez family. He was able to tell them how sorry he was for their loss and thanked them for the gift of life. And they were able to feel the beat of their brother’s heart that lives on in Fisher.

Fisher waited a year and a half for a heart transplant and it was a really rough time for him after Superstorm Sandy, he said. 

“When they told me they had a heart and kidney for me, I was really surprised," he said. “I had the transplant — when I woke up, I felt the difference of Nolman inside me ... The minute I woke up, I felt him inside me and I feel like I know him.”

Through a translator, Rocelia said, “God knows why he does things. You may question why things happen, but he put us in this situation so you can have your heart as a gift.” 

Due to strict anonymity rules that govern organ donation, direct communication is not allowed. Rocelia waited a year and wrote a letter to Fisher asking to meet. In this case, the letter of introduction went through the NJ Sharing Network to protect the confidentiality of both the donor and recipient. After the initial contact, the donor and recipient families may decide to contact each other directly. 

“It was the best day that I had in a long time,” said Fisher of receiving Rocelia's letter. For Fisher, this reunion means so much to him because he can finally meet the family and say thank you. “He saved my life twice— he is a hero.” 

Nolman’s brother and sister were able to feel their brother’s heart beating inside Fisher. Nolman’s mother, who lives in Honduras, was unable to attend this reunion, but sent a message for Fisher: “Even though she doesn’t know you, she loves you because her son is in you,” said Rocelia.

Fisher said that he feels the same way. “Tell her that I felt that way the day I got the heart. The minute I woke up, I felt him inside me and I feel like I know him,” he said.

Fisher knew that Nolman’s mother would find comfort in hearing her son’s heartbeat and handed Rocelia a gift.

“I know that you wanted your mom to be able to hear his heartbeat everyday,” Fisher said. “So, I brought her something so she can.” The gift was a teddy bear with angel wings. When you squeeze the bear’s paw,  you can hear the sound of Nolman’s heartbeat.   

Fisher told the family, “Just remember he is always here. Just because he isn’t sitting here, doesn’t mean he isn't here. He is right here and he will always be here for you anytime.” 

He then asked the family if they could tell him a little bit about Nolman. He already knew he was athletic and strong due to the strength of his new heart. The family then showed him pictures of Nolman and told his story through the translator.

Nolman had moved to the United States two years prior to his death. 

“He was very courageous,” she said. “He came to this country as a young man — he came here for the love of his family."

She explained that Nolman came to the United States from Honduras because their father was sick and needed surgery back in Honduras. “He didn’t care that sometimes he couldn’t afford to eat. He always wanted to make sure his family was taken care of.” He was an accountant in Honduras and wanted to obtain the credentials to pursue a professional career in the United States.

Rocelia said that she came to the United States because of her brother. He helped her to come here with her kids. He was always their hero and he continues to be that hero.

“Despite the tragedy of how he died and he is not here to be with us, he is still alive in you,” she said.

Fisher is forever grateful to Nolman’s family. 

“He gave me the greatest gift that we can ever have,” said Fisher. “There is no thank you in the world that I can tell you and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. Like I’ve known him forever. I will take good care of him. You did not lose a brother, you gained a brother too.”

The Rodriguez family also feels like they gained a brother. The translator spoke for Nolman’s brother, “They lost their brother and it has been hard — knowing that he is able to live and give someone else life is what has helped him.”

Fisher told the Rodriguez family, “You are now part of my family. You will always be part of my family. We are always one. It will always be that way. He [Nolman] takes good care of me and I will take care of him.”

“It’s amazing how strong I feel him everyday. He is there. It is like he talks to me everyday. That is why I couldn’t wait to meet you because it’s like I knew you already,” he said.

He told the Rodriguez family that without Nolman’s heart, he wouldn’t have been able to walk his daughter down the aisle this past November. And with that, Rosalie smiled and said that she too got married in September.

He asked the family if they wanted to hear his heart.

They continued their reunion and placed stones in memory of Nolman in the NJ Sharing Network’s Landscape of Life Meditation Garden, a special place for those whose lives have been touched by organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

______________________________________________

NJ Sharing Network’s goal is to educate New Jersey residents about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation, so they can discuss donation with their families and make the personal decision to register as a donor. To learn more about NJ Sharing Network visit their website www.njsharingnetwork.org.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

NJ Flags to Fly at Half-Staff for Jerry Green May 7

April 24, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — Governor Phil Murphy issued an executive order on Monday for New Jersey flags to be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities on the day of the upcoming General Assembly session, scheduled for May 7, in memory of Assemblyman Jerry Green, former chair of the Union County Democratic Committee, who died last week.

On Thursday, Governor Murphy had said, ...

2018 Municipal Budget is on Collision Course with Principles of Financial Soundness & Stability

April 18, 2018

Having chaired the town council’s finance committee in the recent past, I appreciate the hard work that goes into developing a municipal budget for a town as large and dynamic as Westfield. But as I have expressed publicly and also to the mayor and my council colleagues, I do not support the adoption of Westfield’s 2018 municipal budget. Although the budget contains much that I ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_26bff2b330d314777eae_library

Wed, April 25, 10:00 AM

Westfield Memorial Library, Westfield

Westfield Memorial Library Spring Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, April 25, 12:00 PM

Temple Emanu-El, Westfield

Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Kroloff

Religions And Spirituality

Carousel_image_0d1e344b249d6f43f819_spring_2018_film_fest_

Wed, April 25, 7:30 PM

Rialto NewVision Theater, Westfield

Jewish Film Festival of Central NJ - Ben Gurion: ...

Arts & Entertainment

Westfield Police Blotter: Residence Burglarized & More

April 18, 2018

April 11, 2018 10:23 a.m.

Raymond Rodgers, 56, of Westfield, NJ was arrested in the area of E. Broad Street. Rodgers was arrested pursuant to an unrelated traffic investigation. Rogers was transported to Westfield Police HQ without incident. At WPD HQ, Rodgers was processed and released after posting the full bail amount ($250). Rodgers was arrested on the strength of an outstanding Westfield ...

Learning to Fly Drones at Lamberts Mill Academy

April 24, 2018

Thanks to a very generous donation from the Columbia Bank Foundation the students at Lamberts Mill Academy are learning how to build, program and fly drones. This innovative program will ensure that students gain skills needed for 21st Century employment. 

 

Lamberts Mill Academy, located in Westfield, New Jersey, is part of the Union County Educational Services Commission.

Ways to Increase Your Home's Equity

Sometimes you forget and don’t realize your home provides so much to your life. It brings along with it your dreams of the future, shelter to you and your family, a way to provide a better lifestyle, a better commute, a neighborhood, schools, community involvement and recreational facilities. But it also provides a way to save for the future. It does this by allowing you to build your ...

Westfield Public Schools Welcomes Community to Auditorium Open Houses

Two years ago, voters in Westfield approved a bond referendum to renovate the aging auditoriums in Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools. Major aspects of the renovations include new seating and flooring, electrical and lighting upgrades, state-of-the-art sound systems, acoustical treatments and air conditioning.

On April 11 and 12, students, staff, families and other members of the ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse

By LIZ KEILL

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Why We Keep Kosher

Why We Keep Kosher

This week's parshah, Shemini, introduces the Torah's dietary laws. Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves to be kosher, fish need fins and scales, and a list of forbidden fowl is enumerated.

To those of us in Jewish education, it is a continuing source of disappointment that so many Jews still believe the kosher laws to be outdated.

Hellenic Therapy Center

April 13, 2018

Dropping Off Our Kids At College – Learning How To Adjust

Hellenic Therapy Center

 

Whether your kid is a freshman entering college for the first time or returning back to college, there are so many emotions we experience as parents.  There are differences in a parent’s reaction to the departure of a first child, an only child or even the last child.  Feelings ...

Obituaries

Oct 21, 1944 - Apr 14, 2018
Kathleen A. Hertell passed away peacefully with family at her bedside on April 14, 2018. Loving ...
Read more

‘A Sad Day for Paterson’ as Police Officer Loses Life in Car Crash

April 23, 2018

PATERSON, NJ — On what Paterson Superior Officers Association President Mason Maher called “a sad day for Paterson,” a city police officer lost his life on Sunday after he was involved in a motor vehicle collision while on duty.

Several sources familiar with Sunday’s tragic accident have identified the fallen officer as Tamby Yagan, a 13-year veteran of the ...