Eight months ago, my son Zakkary passed away after he was hit by a distracted driver. When doctors were unable to save him, they let us know that Zakkary was a registered organ donor and a representative from LifeLink was being flown in from Savannah to meet with us. When the reality of that set in, I felt a physical and emotional release and was able to find a divine sense of peace knowing that people who were suffering would be getting calls that day that our son was going to save them. Nobody wants to be the parent of a martyr but because I had to say goodbye, it helped knowing that in his last act, Zakkary gave the most precious loving gift anyone could give…the gift of life.
So in the horrendous days that followed, while we prepared our hearts and minds to say goodbye to our beloved son Zakkary, he was in essence traveling on to save the lives of many others. Life Link explained each organ donor has the potential to save up to 50 lives through organ, skin and tissue donation. LifeLink also explained our names and the names of the organ recipients would go into a database and they would help facilitate communication between donor families and recipients and allow both parties the opportunity to meet, if both parties were interested. I was thrilled we may get to meet the organ recipients.
In November of last year, Brian and I wrote letters to each one of Zakkary’s organ recipients and told them Zakkary’s story and what he meant to all those who loved him. Recently, our family received a letter from the 33-year-old woman who received Zakkary’s pancreas and one of his kidneys.
The letter was an incredible surprise. At the age of 11, this young woman developed Juvenile diabetes, Type I and the condition was a big struggle for her throughout her life. The diabetes caused her kidneys to stop working and she ended up on dialysis five days a week so her father became trained to perform dialysis at home. She explained many times she was close to death and the doctors did not believe she was going to make it.
It was in her most critical time, when she didn’t think she was going to make it, that her mother received a job transfer to Georgia and because of that, she found hope of being put on an organ donor waiting list.
When she received the call that she had a donor, she cried for me and the tragedy I was experiencing. She was scared the transplant would not be successful but from the very first moment they transplanted Zakkary’s organs, they worked at 100 percent, leading her to be free of diabetes. I laugh and tell others that Zakkary is like Jesus Christ here on Earth, because he is healing the sick and giving sight to the blind. And what pleases me the most is this young woman wishes to meet our family.
It is my hope to help others in sharing the comfort I have in knowing Zakkary is now sharing his physical life with countless others and although I search for meaning and answers, every day and every where, I feel now I have the opportunity to know one of the brightest places and experience a once in a lifetime meeting with this young woman who has bravely and beautifully reached out to us.
Zakkary often debated with others saying, “Give me one good reason NOT to be an organ donor,” and I’m with him on that! It was never difficult to support Zakkary’s decision to be an organ donor and I am proud of him.
I know that every breath each one of these recipients take is a breath for our son. Every birthday they celebrate is also a celebration of Zakkary’s birth. I am left in quiet and reflective awe of the time we shared with our son.
Despite my deep sadness, I believe Zakkary is trying to show us his light and love as much as he can. I hope those who hear his story are inspired to be better people, because he has made us better people, too.
This article appears in the June/July 2018 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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