Facts verified, faith restored in Santa’s hospital visit story

Eric Schmitt-Matzen as Santa

KNOXVILLE, TN (WBIR) — The story of a Santa who granted a dying boy his final Christmas wish touched hearts around the world, but skeptics are raising concerns about story details that hadn’t been verified.

Eric Schmitt-Matzen, whose Santa story was originally shared by Knoxville News Sentinel columnist Sam Venable, says the account of a terminally ill 5-year-old boy dying in his arms at a hospital is true.

NBC affiliate WBIR has independently verified several critical details of this story, but has agreed not to publish those for the sake of privacy. Schmitt-Matzen maintains his desire to protect all names involved.

In addition, Schmitt-Matzen’s wife of 38 years spoke with 10News on Wednesday night and also helped fill in details of her husband’s story.

“I know how he reacted that next morning, and this is something that weighed so heavy on him,” Sharon Schmitt-Matzen said of her husband’s experience. “I just know that he just needed time by himself to accept what happened because he obviously wasn’t prepared for a child to die in his arms.”

Eric and Sharon Schmitt-Matzen admit if the nurse would come forward and verify this story, that would address a lot of questions. They also said the family – if they choose to speak – could confirm the facts as well.

Sharon said she hopes the nurse “would, at least, step forward and say, ‘Yes, I did call Eric and I can verify that he came.'”

The nurse, Schmitt-Matzen said, fears her job could be in jeopardy if she came forward, for calling a non-family member into an ICU without prior hospital approval and then having that person publicly share his story.

“If she were to be fired for what she did out of the love of that child, then the hospital administrators and HR, they need to take a second look at their policies,” Sharon Schmitt-Matzen said. “I really don’t think that she should be fired.”

Read more: http://on.wbir.com/2hS0GFa

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