BOSTON (CBS) — A young Chicopee woman who got a meet-and-greet with Rob Gronkowski while she waited in the hospital for two organ transplants is finally headed home.
Twenty-seven-year-old Lauren Meizo has been waiting for this day since January 8.
Understandably, Meizo is excited. “It’s been a long journey, it’s finally coming to an end. To be able to be home, sleep in my own bed, not have any machines on me, be able to have a normal heart rate.”
In April, the New England Patriots tight end visited Meizo as she waited months in her hospital bed at Brigham and Women’s for an available heart and kidney.
Gronk’s visit “raised my spirits,” says Meizo. It also helped get her story out, something Meizo likes to focus on.
“I’m not normal. I wouldn’t want to be normal, to be honest, the medial aspect makes me stick out. I’ve reached a lot of people, I’ve helped a lot of people,” she says.
“Multiple people every day say they’ve signed up to be organ donors, that they’ve never thought about it before, they didn’t know the importance of it.”
This is actually Meizo’s second heart transplant, she had one four years ago. When she began to feel sick in December, she had a hunch she would need another heart. Doctors came back with news confirming what Meizo thought — and adding that she would also need a kidney.
“The doctor sat on the bed and she said ‘you’re going to need a kidney,’ and that kind of hit me, cried about 30 seconds, gained my composure, and was like ‘alright, let’s do this.'”
Meizo has not been on her journey alone. One person that has been by her side the entire time is her mother, Lynn Robitaille.
Robitaille says Meizo is the strongest woman she knows. “She always told me when she was little, she always wanted to have special powers. She always asked Santa Clause every year for special powers — I think she has them. I think she got her Christmas wish a long time ago.”
“The only way she was leaving here was with me out the front doors, smiling, we were going together, transplanted, there was no other option,” says Robitaille.
Meizo’s mom also mentioned her daughter’s mission to share her story. “It’s amazing how she touches people’s hearts…there’s a reason why she’s still here.”
Countless people have reached out to Meizo to say that her story motivated them to become donors. “I’ve had people all over the world message me and say they’re now an organ donor because of what I went through,” says Meizo.
And the support is a two-way street.
“I have people reach out — every day, I have no idea who they are — but I know that they’re the prayers, the support and that’s one thing that’s really pushed me to keep going when I’m ready to say ‘screw it, I’m done,’ you know, I think of how many people out there that are ‘Team Lauren.'”
Meizo is nervous but excited for her next steps in life. “I’m ready for this.”
And one “normal” thing she is looking forward to? “I just want watermelon,” says Meizo “but I haven’t passed that part yet…with due time.”