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Robert  Emmet

Official Site of the Northern Michigan

Author & Poet


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Close to My Heart
The Terrifying, Sometimes Humorous 
Journey to a Double-Lung Transplant

   A hard hitting and surprisingly humorous 

memoir detailing the long and challenging journey from a lung disease diagnosis to a remarkable double lung transplant. A witty 

and all-to-real account of what it's like to be on the receiving end of a doctor's bad news and the incredible fight that ensues to return to normal life.


Terrifying, humorous and above all, human. Emmet's journey is as tenacious as he is. 




I was born in Detroit, in 1950 - a different time and place. Back then, my parents made sure I experienced and appreciated art – from the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and through theatrical productions at the Fisher Theatre. After graduating from Michigan State University, my high school sweetheart and I ran a theatre program in Boyne City Michigan, directing musicals, plays and dinner theaters for over 40 years.

I’ve been an English teacher, played baseball, rugby, soccer, traveled abroad and throughout the United States, been a carpenter, truck driver, tour guide, coached football, baseball, basketball, golf, and cross-country, hiked, biked, created paintings, written poetry, published a book, have an incredible family, and been in love for over 50 years.

Cat Stevens wrote,

“We only dance on this world a short while.”

… I have danced.


In the Press

Close to My Heart truly does take you along on a journey, as the title suggests, giving you the feeling that you’ve made a friend in Emmet and leaving you with the laughter and insights he shares—not only into life-altering surgery, but into life, support, and caring. 

Not only is this book a gift for anyone going through surgery, with a narrator who understands exactly what you’re going through, but it holds a lot of value for anyone, even those who have never set foot in a hospital room.


While the book is about his transplant, it is, at its heart, much more than that.

- The National Writers Series

“A powerful read ... a story of gifts, endowed with gratitude and wit. Robert finds the fortitude to accept the unimaginable, a new set of lungs. Writing with humility and an open heart, he makes us mindful of our tender, fragile bodies breathing in and out, and the courage it takes to embrace love and live. It will make you want to be an organ donor.

 - Jennie Moody, Ph.D, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia

In The Press


Robert Wollenberg’s experiences as a lung-transplant survivor can be shared with your group or organization.

A lively and compelling speaker, Robert has a prepared talk titled, “Becoming Humanistic by Being Human,” which highlights the patient’s side of today’s medical environment.

He can also speak to the specifics of the lung-transplant experience as the number of transplants grows each year. Although not a physician, he offers humorous and important insight into this expanding field of medicine and patient treatment.

Available for either personal or Zoom presentations, depending on the status of Covid in the relevant communities.

Contact Robert below!



For media inquiries, contact Robert:

Tel: (231) 620 - 5769 


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