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Man’s death brings life to others

Jane Stebbins/Summit County Correspondent

But his soul lives on in five people to whom he donated some of his organs.

A Colorado man named Peter no longer needs to undergo dialysis treatment, thanks to Schroeder’s pancreas and left kidney.

In a 64-year-old grandfather’s chest, Schroeder’s heart beats strong. It replaced a heart doctors said wouldn’t last the Oregon man another day.

A man named A.J. from Missouri has the will to live again, thanks to one of Schroeder’s kidneys.

Schroeder’s lungs went to a 26-year-old Colorado man who suffered from pulmonary hypertension. To a 42-year-old Colorado man went his liver.

His corneas will go to someone who cannot see, so perhaps, like Schroeder, they can take aim with a rifle during hunting season. And bone and skin will benefit others undergoing reconstructive surgery or suffering from burns.

That’s what helps his mother, Carrie, deal with the untimely loss of her son.

“We’re very happy we can help someone else live a happier, healthier life,” she said. “They can go on and fulfill some of their dreams. Without (the donations), they might even be dead by now.”

Schroeder suffered debilitating migraines since the age of 3. A pilot medication program at the University of Connecticut eliminated them, and the teen moved to Colorado to attend college.

But while working for a tree company in Boulder, Schroeder’s hand was caught between the ball and hitch of a trailer, severing nerves and tendons.

After the first of six surgeries on his hand, the migraines returned.

CAT scans showed that his brain was normal. But the migraines increased in frequency and intensity, sometimes debilitating him for as many as 26 out of 30 days.

Now, researchers are finding that many of the more severe migraines might be miniature strokes. Carrie’s father had severe migraines, as did her husband’s mother and two others in the family.

On April 16, Schroeder came to Breckenridge to visit his brother and parents. He called them from the forest near their Dillon home and told them he was going to end his life. The police found him shortly thereafter.

Flight for Life nurses rushed Schroeder to St. Anthony’s, where doctors kept his body going for 48 hours to harvest his organs.

For the family, it was an easy decision.

“As a family, we decided long ago that we would all donate our organs,” she said. “I was following through on Eric’s wishes.”

Two days later, the doctors pronounced Schroeder dead.

“You have to feel good to know someone else can have a better life,” Carrie said. “I want to make people aware of the positive things that can come from something like this. If you could have seen how much pain Eric was in … I guess I can only say, he’s not in pain anymore.”


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