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Young heart transplant patient is recovering ‘with no problems’

Christine Grobart with her sTim Grobart 5 years old Children's Memorial Hospital waiting for heart transplant before or after move

Christine Grobart with her son Tim Grobart, 5 years old, at Children's Memorial Hospital waiting for a heart transplant before or after the move to the new Lurie Children's Hospital, Wednesday, June 6, 2012. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.

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Updated: July 23, 2012 8:04AM

Just before surgeons prepared to put a new heart inside 5-year-old Tim Grobart, his father leaned in close, whispering to his little boy that he was strong and that they’d see each other “on the other side.”

“He looked at me, and I could tell he knew what I was talking about,” Jeff Grobart said. “We held hands and he gave a little squeeze.”

On Thursday, Tim — the Lombard boy profiled in the Chicago Sun-Times as he awaited a life-saving transplant operation and a move to the new Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital — was recovering well from his surgery this week, doctors said.

“He’s doing absolutely great so far, with no problems,” said Dr. Steven Kindel, a cardiologist and part of Tim’s transplant team.

Tim’s was the first heart transplant surgery performed at the new hospital, and only the third organ transplant of any kind since the Streeterville campus opened June 9.

The first few days after a transplant are the most crucial, and doctors will be monitoring Tim closely for any signs that his body might be rejecting the new heart, Kindel said.

Tim’s family learned Tuesday morning that a match had been found. The surgery did not happen until much later that night, which gave the Grobarts time to be with Tim — time to reassure an anxious kid that the surgery was “the best possible news,” his father said.

“He knew this meant good things were happening,” Jeff Grobart said.

In the pre-dawn hours Wednesday, the Grobarts learned Tim’s surgery had gone well.

“We feel a lot of relief,” said Christine Grobart, Tim’s mother. “We were waiting, not knowing when the end was in sight. Now there’s an end in sight.”

Tim remained on a ventilator Thursday evening, but his father said the family has been able to talk to him “on the other side.”

“We just let him know that Mom and Dad are here and that we’re really proud of him,” Jeff Grobart said.

Talk to nurses and doctors who have cared for Tim, and they’ll tell you the same thing — he’s colorful character. Tim loves to tell jokes to anyone who will listen, he favors soup for breakfast and he dreams of being a chef one day.

But mostly, he just wants to be a normal kid, who does not have to worry about over-exerting himself and avoiding sports his big brother, Lou, enjoys.

And as much as he likes the new hospital, with its flat-screen TVs and private rooms, he will be glad to go home.

“He’s ready to be done with hospitals for a good long while,” his father said.

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