Lombard boy back home and having fun after heart transplant
Tim Grobart is busy exploring the active side of life.
At 5 years old and a month removed from a heart transplant, the Lombard boy's days are filled with running around the house, building with Legos or playfully battling his 8-year-old brother, Lou, with plastic light sabers and toy guns.
A week after Tim left the hospital, his father says the childhood chaos and sibling warfare waging at the family's home is "blissful" compared with the past couple months of hospital stays, tests and the transplant itself.
"The family is very, very happy to be back in our home and to get back to as normal of a life as possible," Jeff Grobart, said. "It feels like we're back to that freedom to be a normal family — if our family could ever be described as normal."
Tim's new normal appears to be constant motion. He's more energetic than he used to be, his mother, Christine, said Friday, because he finally has a healthy heart instead of a sick one.
"He's really starting to explore what he wants to do physically," Jeff Grobart said.
Tim can now begin counting down the days until he'll start kindergarten and looking forward to playing T-ball or soccer in the spring — all because his June 20 heart transplant was successful. Jeff Grobart said Tim was cleared to go home after medical tests of his new heart showed slight signs of rejection, but nothing to be concerned about.
Although Tim is driving remote-controlled cars across the floor, applying temporary tattoos by the handful and playing with vigor, as if to make up for lost time, he won't be ready to join his Hammerschmidt School classmates when Lombard Elementary District 44 begins school Aug. 27. He'll have to wait about another month, until late September, to have built up enough immune system strength to face a building full of kids and their germs.
"While he's certainly very healthy, he's also on a lot of medications that are immunosuppressants," Jeff Grobart said.
The medicines are working to prevent his body from rejecting the new heart. They're covered by insurance, but without such coverage, the drugs would cost at least $2,000 a month, Christine Grobart said.
She said the family is grateful for the lemonade stands and craft fairs popping up in the community to raise money for Tim's medical expenses. The family appreciates the support because of the incidental costs of having a child in the hospital. Filling up the gas tank, picking up a bite to eat — those bills add up for the family of five, which also includes 18-month-old Rosie.
The trek to the hospital was about 20 miles, as Tim's transplant was the first conducted at the new Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. He was taken to the old Children's Memorial Hospital hospital May 30 and was among the patients moved June 9 when the facility opened its new building.
Hearing the story of what brought Tim to the hospital in May — after being diagnosed with a rare heart defect at 4 months old and enduring several surgeries — is part of what moved Lombard resident Melissa Dagenhart to plan a benefit yard and bake sale Aug. 9 and 10 for his medical fund.
"They were all getting ready to go to Lou's baseball game and they found Tim unresponsive on the floor," Dagenhart said. "That just breaks my heart."
The benefit sale will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug 9 and 10 at 130 E. Maple St. in Lombard.
As neighbors rally around Tim, his family is looking forward to health and fewer worries. It's likely Tim will find himself in the hospital again doctors have told his parents, but the Grobarts are choosing not to dwell on the negative.
"There's nothing about his health currently that says we need to worry about surgeries on the horizon," his father said. "We'd rather let Tim be as normal and average a kid as he can be — he just takes a lot of medicines."
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