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Brewers fan with Cubs fan’s heart meets donor’s family at Miller Park, throws out 1st pitch

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Tom Schroeder

MILWAUKEE -- Heartache for one family became the gift of life for another. One year after a Cedarburg man received a heart transplant, his journey came full circle on Saturday, Sept. 7.

"I've been blessed with a great match," said Tom Schroeder.

It's been one year since Tom Schroeder was given a second chance at life.

"It was very special, like we were soul brothers," said Tom Schroeder, heart transplant recipient.

Tom Schroeder

Tom Schroeder

In need of a heart transplant, Tom spent 50 days in the hospital before doctors found a match last August. His new heart came from 32-year-old Joshua Holland.

"Lots of thanks and prayers and gratitude," Tom said.

Joshua Holland

Tom Schroeder

Three months after his surgery, Tom wrote to his donor's family and received a six-and-a-half page letter back.

"It was titled, 'My Heart's First Journey,'" said Tom.

Among the many things Tom learned about Joshua, he discovered his donor was a Cubs fan. It was only fitting that Tom -- a Brewers fan -- would meet Joshua's family at Miller Park ahead of Saturday's Brewers-Cubs matchup.

"He's embodying my uncle... I see my uncle in him," said Jerzie Wilkerson, Joshua's niece.

Tom Schroeder, Jerzie Wilkerson

Joshua's niece, Jerzie Wilkerson, joined Tom to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Jerzie threw to Craig Counsell, and Tom, to Joe Madden.

"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.

Tom Schroeder, Jerzie Wilkerson

Tom Schroeder, Jerzie Wilkerson

Setting a storied rivalry aside to write a new chapter of their own.

"I'll be watching the game with my new family," said Tom.

One year later, Dr. Weiss says Tom is doing very well. He says they'll continue to monitor Tom's new heart to ensure continued health.

Tom Schroeder

Tom Schroeder

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