Ohio woman's unexpected death gives four people new chance at life


She was a mother, stepmother and according to her husband, a friend to everyone she met. Now, she can add one more title: organ donor.

Tabatha Schmidt’s unexpected death two days before Christmas gave four people a second chance at life. And it’s her unselfish act that has her family celebrating this holiday season.

“Everyone always remembers her for her big beautiful smile; big beautiful ... just perfect teeth,” her widower, Eric Schmidt, said.

Schmidt said he worshiped his wife.

“Always giving. Always put other people first. Mother of seven, all she did was give, give, give,” he said.

They were a blended family, each with children from prior marriages. But Eric says Tabatha made it look easy.

“She filled a hole in our home,” he said.

Married just two years, he never thought it would end this quickly.

“She would always say my body hates me.”

He said Tabatha suffered from asthma and on Dec. 22, while preparing the home for Christmas, she had another attack.

“She had an asthma attack in a place I hadn't dusted. She said I need breathing treatment; I can't breathe.”

But Tabatha was fading.

“She looks like she has some peace and she's breathing and I could feel her slump she was losing consciousness,” he said.

At 48-years-old, Tabatha Schmidt's life ended.

“Her heart gave out and it was done,” he said.

Eric said doctors told him a combination of steroids, medication for her joints, her asthma and diet pills contributed to her death.

“Do you remember the last thing you said to your wife?" asked 10TV's Kevin Landers.

"Oh I love her over and over and over,” he said.

But Tabatha Schmidt had one final act.

“To donate four life-saving organs, the moons have to align so perfectly and she made it happen,” he said.

Schmidt was placed on life support long enough to harvest her organs -- her heart, two kidneys and her liver saved the lives of four people.

“It's pretty special,” he said.

Special, he said, because as he spends time with his family on Christmas, he knows she may be gone but her spirit is everywhere.

“I feel her in me when I start to go down, I feel her lift me up,” he said.

He said this holiday season, he celebrates the selfless act of a wife, who in death, gave life to four strangers who prayed for a miracle that someone's healthy organs would find them.

Two days before Christmas, Tabatha Schmidt, known as someone who always thought of others first, gave four people a chance to celebrate life -- again.

“She always making other people happy,” he said.

Lifeline of Ohio reports more people in Ohio and across the nation are waiting for kidneys than any other organ.

3,300 people in Ohio are waiting a kidney transplant.