Five years later, we were married. Mat was in medical school and I was at NYU going for my MFA in Dramatic Writing. After his residency, Mat decided to train to become a cardiologist. The day after he mailed his cardiology fellowship applications, our daughter Lissie was born. Five days later, we learned Lissie had a heart defect and would need surgery. Thank goodness Mat understood all of the medical terms being thrown at us, because it was a really scary time.
When it was all over and Lissie was doing well, my friend Gerri Freid Kramer, whose son also had a heart defect, came to me and suggested we write a book for parents of children who were experiencing what we had. With Mat as our advisor, we crafted questions for the dozens of health care professionals who contributed to the book and several years later The Parents’ Guide to Children’s Congenital Heart Defects was published.
I had worked at the Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) until Lissie was about a year and half old. Two sons later, I was home with my kids and itching for something else to do. I started thinking about writing again and took a class at the Institute for Children’s Literature. While taking that class, Mat and one of his patients were featured on a program on the Discovery Health channel with Dr. Mehmet Oz. Dr. Oz was focusing on heart transplant patients and we were having fun watching Mat on TV, when one of the segments showed a young girl waiting for a transplant. I watched her face as she was wheeled into the operating room—a mixture of excitement, fear, anxiety and hope. I was haunted by this girl and as I kept thinking about her. Thus, Emmi and my novel, Change of Heart were born.
Thank goodness for Mat. When I had a medical question about Emmi’s journey, I had an expert I could always approach. Ironically, when WestSide Books was trying to decide if they wanted to buy Change of Heart, they sent it to a pediatric cardiologist to ensure that I had gotten the medical facts right (I did!).
After Change of Heart was released, Mat and I realized that we had a wonderful forum to promote organ donation awareness. Mat had so many patients waiting for hearts and anything we could do to help would be great. I partnered with the New York Organ Donor Network, who generously printed Change of Heart bookmarks with book info on one side and organ donor info on the other. Mat and I did several joint interviews for cable TV shows where we got to speak about organ donation and the importance of registering to be a donor.
Who would have thought when I was 17 and falling in love with this guy at camp that I would actually marry him and that he would be so influential in my career? Not a bad guy to have around. And I still have a big crush on him!
Shari’s website: http://www.sharimaurer.com/
Shari’s FB page: https://www.facebook.com/shari.b.maurer
Shari’s Got Teen Fiction? blog: http://gotteenfiction.blogspot.com/For more information about organ donation registration: Donate Life: http://donatelife.net/