Brownie holds a special part of Nick Lindblad’s heart. The well-worn stuffed bear goes with Lindblad on most of his “procedures.” Sometimes medical staff give the bear a mask and bracelet.
Born with Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart disease, Lindblad has had lots of procedures since birth. This month, the 13-year-old from Lockport has been waiting in Lurie Children’s for his biggest procedure, a heart transplant.
Even with that, Lindblad holds fishing dreams, though plans to fish the white bass run on the Wolf River at Fremont, Wis. with his dad Dan this month were put on hold when Lindblad went to Lurie to wait on a heart.
He can spin a good fishing story from his upraised bed, literally blanketed in Blackhawks stuff. Brent Seabrook is his favorite Blackhawk; Jonathan Toews, a close second. When Blackhawks win it all, the Stanley Cup spends one day at Lurie.
Newer stuffed animals pile up at the bottom of Lindblad’s bed. Jaws, an alligator skull with a white critter in its gaping maw, lurks on a stand.
Asked about his first catch, Lindblad said, “I caught an 8-year-old.’’
This is not your usual fishing tale. That’s right, he hooked another kid in the corner of the mouth. Things turned out OK. By evening, the other kid and Lindblad were eating marshmallows and watching a movie.
You gotta have heart to keep going.
Six kids wait for hearts on the 15th floor of Lurie, according to Dr. Jeffrey Gossett, one of the team attending to Lindblad. Any transplant is complicated. With kids’ hearts even more is involved.
One doctor needs to be with the donor, another needs to time prepping the recipient. Timing is essential, because things happen. Such as the plane crash in Lake Michigan with a donor team in June of 2007.
I hope readers take away two main things.
First is the resiliency of kids like Lindblad.
Second is organ donation. For adults, Secretary of State Jesse White has worked wonders. For kids, it is a bit tougher. Gossett said kids can take hearts from a donor roughly half to twice their weight.
“You have to be willing to turn tragedy into something good,’’ Gossett said of the need for parents to OK organ donation from their children for kids like those waiting on the 15th floor.
While waiting on his heart, Lindblad is also waiting for permission for a pass to fish. May 18, on a brief pass, he caught a 2-pound largemouth from a pond near Lockport on a bobber and worm.
The tricky part was holding it. The gills scrubbed his hand.
“My hand was dripping blood,’’ said Nick with a note of pride.
My favorite fishing moment came when asked about his biggest fish and Nick said, “An 8-pound bass.’’ “Maybe a 5-pounder,’’ said his dad, who said they were fishing a pit in southern Illinois near Harrisburg. “8 pounds,’’ Lindblad insisted, then smiled widely.
I want to see that wide smile in a few months and hear a fresh fishing tale even wider.
May God speed Lindblad’s heart.
His father has various benefits and such at openyourheart4nick.net. There’s an unavoidable reality: Bills pile up.