Sunday, November 04, 2007

More Great Red Sox Karma!

Folks - you probably wouldn't be reading this post without knowing my story by now. I've long made the point that the fabulous, dedicated play of the Red Sox to win their first World Series in 86 years in 2004 was inspiration for me in never doubting my own path to recovery from liver disease. I was beside myself with joy when my friend Patrick pointed out another amazing example of Red Sox karma with a happy, healthy transplant ending.
Congratulations to Andrew and the Red Sox for making 2007 another magical year!

Heart transplant patient awed by 1st trip to Fenway Park for WS

By Melissa Trujillo, Associated Press Writer | October 25, 2007

BOSTON --Andrew Madden sat between Red Sox president Larry Lucchino and Wally the Green Monster in Boston's dugout, and when the bullpen phone rang, he didn't hesitate to pick it up.

Not bad for a 13-year-old from Odessa, Texas, who has spent more than two months at Children's Medical Center of Dallas waiting for, receiving and recovering from a heart transplant -- even if the bullpen line was dead.

"It's amazing. This park is so huge. It's awesome," he said. "I never thought any of this would be possible."

Andrew had used Boston's postseason run to help keep his mind off how sick he was, and when the Red Sox found out how devoted he -- and his heart surgeon -- were to the team, they helped get the pair and Andrew's mother to Game 2 of the World Series against the Colorado Rockies.

On Thursday morning, they flew on a plane provided through the nonprofit Grace Flight of America to Boston to watch the game in a Fenway suite, so Andrew could keep out of the cool night air.

"I just wanted to go to Fenway Park, just for once, but a World Series game, that's just a once in a lifetime thing, for sure," he said.

It wasn't until they arrived that Lucchino offered another surprise: Andrew, whose favorite position to play is pitcher, would throw out the game's first pitch.

"He's been practicing, just in case," his mother, Lauri Wemmer, said.

Andrew took his surgeon, Kristine Guleserian, on the field with him for his pitch, which bounced in the dirt in front of home plate. Several Red Sox players cheered him on from the dugout, and reliever Mike Timlin ran over to shake his hand.

Andrew said his favorite Red Sox player was Josh Beckett, though he would never expect to throw Thursday as well as Beckett had the night before.

"There's no way I could," he said.

When Andrew was an infant, he was diagnosed with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart that doesn't pump properly.

Medication had kept the condition in check until a couple days after his 13th birthday, when Andrew became fatigued playing golf. After being admitted to Children's Medical Center in mid-August, Andrew found out he needed a transplant.

It was a coincidence that in the heart of Texas, Guleserian also loved the Red Sox. They would call each other to get details about the playoff games and each wore Boston gear during Andrew's surgery on Sept. 30.

And both were giddy over watching Thursday's game.

"Every time a new heart starts beating, I mean I've done that dozens of times, it's exciting," Guleserian said. "Every time, I walk into Fenway Park, it's the same thing."

Attending the World Series would completely change how Andrew would remember his 13th year, his mother said.

"It's not ever going to be 'Oh I was sick and I could have died,' " Wemmer said. "It's going to be, 'Wow, I got to be at Fenway Park.' "

Andrew was quiet -- uncharacteristically so his mother said -- as he toured Fenway.

"You can't shut him up," she said, laughing as her son roamed the dugout.

His hands at his side, his eyes wide, Andrew was shown the Green Monster, the retired Red Sox numbers, the dugout phone. Watching the games back home in Dallas would never compare.

"It looks way better," he said. "I know they're always talking about HD this and HD that. This is way better."