We take some comfort in the fact that Zachary's organs have given life to at least four recipients. Their lives are a testament to Zachary's wishes and we extend our love to them all.
November 12 started off like any other normal, busy day at Zachary's home. Mum Lydia was busy getting breakfast for her four gorgeous kids - Zachary (7), Jordan (6), Kimberley(3), and baby Brody (1) - while Dad, David was in the bathroom preparing for work.
Zachary and Jordan were kissed by their Mum at the front door and made their way down the driveway, just as they did every morning. Dressed in heavy jackets with hoods up against the rain, the two boys ran anxiously, so as not to miss the bus parked outside their gate on the opposite side of the road.
Maybe it was rain in his eyes, or his view obstructed by his jacket hood, but for whatever reason Zachary looked left before stepping out onto the road just in time to be clipped in the back of his head by the wing mirror of a passing car travelling from his right. Lydia looked on in horror from her kitchen window unable to believe what she was seeing.
"I remember watching the boys running down the driveway in the rain and thinking 'watch out for the road Zachary'. I think I even said it out loud knowing full well he would never hear me. The next words out of my mouth were a blood curdling scream and I remember calling out to David, 'Zachary's been hit by a car'," Lydia says.
Unable to leave her little children alone, Lydia had to wait inside and watch the tragedy unfold from her vantage point in the kitchen. David ran to his injured son, oblivious to the rain and cold. An 18 year old girl was already performing CPR on Zachary and has been credited with keeping Zachary alive in the immediate aftermath of the accident.
"So much of what happened next is a blur to me. It took 30 minutes for the ambulance to arrive and then a rescue helicopter was called. I was able to pack some essentials so I could travel with Zak and a neighbour stayed to look after the children until my sister arrived to take over."
"Our first stop was Whangarei hospital, but it was soon clear from the scans of Zak's head that he would need specialised care. His brain was severely swollen. The next helicopter flight was to Starship Children's Hospital in Auckland. It seemed a reasonably uneventful trip, but I subsequently found out that Zak's life hung in the balance throughout the flight," Lydia says.
A large team of Starship's most specialised doctors and nurses gathered in the intensive care unit to begin working on stabilising Zachary. Surgery to drain spinal fluid from his injured brain was performed in the ICU rather than in the operating theatre as Zak was just too fragile to move.
"I remember being so scared for my son, but at the same time I knew he was in the best of hands. But the next day when a second brain scan was carried out, I struggled to comprehend what the doctors were saying. I didn't want to believe what I was hearing."
Zachary's brain was swollen to the point where it couldn't expand any further and it had begun to die. The damage was irreversible.
"It was at that moment that I knew I would never again see my son laugh or smile or eat or tell me he loved me."
Zachary was pronounced 'brain dead'.
"About a month before Zachary's accident, he'd asked me about organ donation because he'd seen the word 'donor' on my driver's licence. When I explained what it meant, he looked at me thoughtfully and said what a nice thing to do if you didn't need your body any more. Unbeknownst to me, this must have preyed on his mind as he also had a similar conversation with his dad some time later."
"So when Janice from Organ Donation New Zealand asked us if we'd consider donating Zachary's organs, we knew it was our little boy's choice and we didn't hesitate," Lydia says.
"We take some comfort in the fact that Zachary's organs have given life to at least four recipients. Their lives are a testament to Zachary's wishes and we extend our love to them all."
"My hope is that by telling Zachary's story in this way, more people will talk with their children and each other about organ donation. Knowing what he wanted made all the difference when we had to make this decision."
"I am so proud of Zachary, I love him dearly and he is with us everyday. Telling his story is my way of honouring him and keeping him with me," Lydia says.
Zachary was buried just six days before his eighth birthday.
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