Tim and Shauna Smith with their daughter Mia. Courtesy of Shauna Smith

NAPLES — Eight months after receiving a heart transplant, Tim Smith’s new heart “is doing wonderful,” his wife Shauna Smith says, but he’s repeatedly been hospitalized due to infections.

Tim Smith, who lives in Naples with his family, previously served as the fire captain of Buxton Fire and Rescue, the chief of Sebago EMS and as a fire instructor throughout Southern Maine, but was diagnosed with coronary artery disease in 2012 and has struggled with heart problems for years. He received a heart transplant in April from a 31-year-old male donor but has to undergo frequent cardio catheterizations, which check for the body’s rejection of the donor heart.

His medication suppresses his immune system, so he has been hospitalized multiple times since April, most recently over Thanksgiving, due to a variety of infections.

“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster,” Shauna Smith said this week. But, “there are zero signs of rejection (of his new heart).”

Right now, he’s infection free. We’re just trying to prevent him from getting another infection with cold and flu season,”she said. 

Tim Smith is also undergoing “cardiac rehab,” which his wife describes as “medically supervised exercise.”

The rehabilitation takes place in a gym, and he performs a variety of exercises while being supervised with a heart monitor. The full rehabilitation process takes three months, but the infections have delayed his progress, since he has to stop and then start over again.

He is due to finish rehab at the end of January and then, “if everything goes well, he’ll get the all-clear to return to work,” his wife said. “Then we’ll be searching for a position that he can do.”

He previously worked as a safety supervisor at CCB Inc. in Westbrook, but he recently lost that job.

His employer has been absolutely fabulous. They just couldn’t hold his position any longer,” Shauna Smith said. 

A friend of the Smiths, Cyndi German, started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the family.

Their hardest struggle now is just being able to afford their daily bills,” German said. Shauna Smith works full time as a nurse with New England Life Care, but Tim Smith has two children and German said they’ve “really been living on that one income.” 

German met Shauna Smith 10 years ago when the two were studying to be paramedics at Southern Maine Community College.  German, who now lives in Pennsylvania, said the couple has “an amazing attitude. They’re both very positive and optimistic. I don’t know how they do it.”

German’s husband is a graphic designer, so at one point he made hooded sweatshirts, t-shirts and stickers to raise money for the Smiths. German said she’s seen a bit of a lull in donations recently. She hopes to reach the $45,000 goal by Dec. 31, because on Jan. 1, the family’s insurance deductible “starts all over again,” and she said the Smiths are “really scared about the start of the year.”

In the new year, Shauna Smith hopes to find “the new normal,” saying, “we are very blessed and thankful to be where we’re at.” 

Anyone interested in helping the Smiths can donate via the GoFundMe, called “Help Firefighter Recovery after Heart transplant.”

Comments are not available on this story.