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Resilient courage for an 11-year-old

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Lt. Col. Tim Schhwamb, North American Aerospace Defense Command standardization and evaluation chief at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., along with his wife, Cristi, and daughter, Lauren pose for a family photo. Lauren was born with a serious heart defect and in 2009, and at age three received a successful heart transplant. (Courtesy photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Lt. Col. Tim Schhwamb, North American Aerospace Defense Command standardization and evaluation chief at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., along with his wife, Cristi, and daughter, Lauren pose for a family photo. Lauren was born with a serious heart defect and in 2009, and at age three received a successful heart transplant. (Courtesy photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Lt. Col. Tim Schwamb, North American Aerospace Defense Command standardization and evaluation chief at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, and his wife, Cristi, have a daughter who was born with a serious heart defect. At age three, Lauren received a heart transplant and has been treated at hospitals across the country.
“It was a stressful time,” said Tim. “We were trying to get Lauren higher on the transplant list due to the severity of her heart defect.”
Lauren was admitted to a children’s hospital in Philadelphia right after New Year’s in 2009.
Cristi stayed with Lauren while Tim was geographically separated from them for seven months
“That was tough as I continued to go to work and our older two kids stayed in Washington D.C.” Tim said. “Fortunately our parents took turns taking staying with us in D.C. or they took the kids to their house.”
During those seven months there were a couple of times where they thought they had a donor only to find out a few hours later that it wasn’t a match.
Finally, on July 27 there was one.
Lauren did amazingly well throughout her surgery and her recovery was much quicker than doctors had expected.
“It was an answer to our prayers, and we were thankful for all the doctors that that took such good care of Lauren.” Tim said. “We were also mindful of the family that had lost a child and had given the gift of life to Lauren so she could have a new chance at life.”
Like many children of military families, Lauren has moved around a lot and been treated at hospitals across the country. From this, Tim and Cristi know from experience how important it is to receive the best pediatric health care.
“When I learned we would be stationed at Peterson AFB in August 2015, we were thrilled that Lauren could be treated at a children’s hospital in Denver,” said Tim.
One of the things Lauren had always wanted was to have her ears pierced but couldn’t because of the risk for infection. She had a higher chance because of her heart surgery.
“While we were living in Arizona the doctors wouldn’t let me get my ears pierced,” said Lauren. “When I went to the children’s hospital (in Denver) they said that I could and I was so excited.”
“For transplant patients ear piercing is a big deal because there’s a greater chance of infection,” said Cristi.
Shortly after the good news, Lauren got her ears pierced.
Thanks to her resilient spirit and the thoughtful care she receives at the children’s hospital, Lauren is now a happy 11-year-old living with her mom and dad, said Cristi.
Lauren is currently home schooled by her mother.
This year Lauren was nominated by doctors and community members to serve as an ambassador for a children’s hospital where she shares her medical history through interviews, presentations and events to provide awareness for other children and their families.
“She tells her story to show why it’s so important to have a dedicated children’s hospital here in Colorado Springs,” said Cristi. “She tells the story of how the doctors at the hospital put the children and their needs first.
Today Lauren concentrates on the entertaining aspects in her life, performing in a church drama production, singing with the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale, and collecting Junior Ranger badges when vacationing National Parks.

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