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Nurses arrange ‘date night’ for heart transplant recipient, wife of 36 years

MILWAUKEE – A Wisconsin man is living his best life after receiving a heart transplant. In his case, the best medicine did not necessarily come from a bottle.

Although confined to the hospital, Tom Schroeder's doctor prevented him from being bedridden - making the pump keeping Schroeder alive portable. After spending 50 days in intensive care at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center, Schroeder said he does not care to go anywhere near a hospital - except to visit the staff who cared for him.

Walking the halls kept up Schroeder's strength - and prepared his body for his transplant, but Schroeder's nurses knew he really needed something for his soul. Together, they organized a date night for Schroeder and his wife, Margie.

"He had his Hawaiian shirt on, his scrubs pants. It was quite the look," Margie Schroeder told WITI.

The pair, who have been married 36 years, got a private meal in the St. Luke's Vince Lombardi Charitable Funds Healing Garden. They sat together in comfortable silence.

"Every time I would peek out there, you could just see the smile on their faces. They looked like they were having the greatest time," said Kristin Siedel, nurse. "This is very good for the heart."

Their special night took place just feet from Schroeder's hospital room, but at that moment, they were much closer to their life before heart disease.

"This was something really special. It felt like I wasn't in the hospital. It felt like I was really out to dinner," Tom Schroeder said.

That lifted Schroeder's spirits for another 10 days - when a doctor finally replaced his broken heart.

As of Monday, Schroeder was 45 days post-transplant and doing well. He and Margie went on another date, and he can drive a car again starting Tuesday.