Eric Schmitt-Matzen, 60, who works as a part-time Santa, spoke about a phone call he received last month from an acquaintance who is a nurse at a local hospital. The man had just arrived home from work when he received a call about a very sick five-year-old boy. The terminally ill boy died on his arm after saying "Santa, can you help me?"
Terminally Ill Child Dies In Santa’s Arms While Granting His Final Wish
Eric Schmitt-Matzen, 60 years of age, living in Tennessee, got a call from a nurse at his local hospital who told him he had to go "right now" to visit a boy who wanted to meet Santa. Matzen is not given even enough time to change into his full outfit after coming home from work. According to Aleteia, Eric Schmitt-Matzen looks every bit the part of Santa Claus. His 6-foot frame carries 310 pounds, leaving “just enough of a lap for the kids to sit on,” he says with a gentle Kringley chuckle right out of Central Casting.
Schmitt-Matzen is a professionally trained Santa actor who works about 80 engagements a year as Father Christmas. His wife, Sharon, often plays Mrs. Claus. Schmitt-Matzen told the News Sentinel that he rushed to the hospital in about 15 minutes after receiving the call where he met with the child's mother and some family members. The mother had purchased a toy for her son and asked Schmitt-Matzen to give it to her son.
Santa And The Child's Conversation
From USA Today, here is the conversation made by Santa and the terminally ill kid who died right before they talk for just a few minutes.
“I sat down on his bed and asked, ‘Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!
“He looked up and said, ‘I am?’
“I said, ‘Sure!’
“I gave him the present. He was so weak he could barely open the wrapping paper. When he saw what was inside, he flashed a big smile and laid his head back down.
‘“They say I’m gonna die,’ he told me. ‘How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?’
“I said, ‘Can you do me a big favor?’
“He said, ‘Sure!’
“When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.
“He said, ‘They will?’
“I said, ‘Sure!’
Matzen said on reports that he wrapped his arms around the boy and before he could say anything, the boy died right there. He also said that he could not bring himself to visit his grandchildren the following day and was "a basket case for three days". It took him more than a week to stop thinking about it and get back to work.