March 13, 2019
Zackary Williams was a strong, determined and happy little boy — especially considering he was born with a rare heart defect called T.A.P.V.R as well as pulmonary hypertension.
Despite beginning his life with machines that helped him breathe and acquiring brain damage after open-heart surgery, “what he had on the inside of his body never showed on the outside,” said his dad Richard Myers.
Richard and Zackary’s mother, Andi Williams, continued to watch their young boy beat the odds and live a life full of smiles, happiness and human connection.
But in June 2018 shortly after summer break had started, Zackary was back in the hospital. His heart and lungs began to get worse, and he went into cardiac arrest. When the doctors told Andi there was nothing more they could do, she and Richard only needed 30 minutes to decide what they would do next.
They decided to move forward with organ donation in the hopes that Zackary could save and heal others.
And he did just that. Zackary’s kidney went to a father of four children.
His pancreas was recovered for research purposes.
“Zackary was here for a reason,” Andi said of her first-born son. “His whole life I’ve known he was supposed to teach somebody something, and now after his death he’s able to do that.”
One organ donor has the potential to save eight lives, and one tissue donor could heal and enhance the lives of more than 100 people.
These statistics are known within the donation community and are beginning to spread farther as people learn more about donation.
But something many might not realize about donation is the ability for a donor to affect many more than hundreds of people. This can happen through research.
When a potential donor is identified, many medical tests take place to determine which organs and tissues are suitable for transplantation to someone in need, either on the transplant list or in need of healing procedures or surgeries.
When a donor is cleared to donate but not all organs are suitable for transplantation, a donor’s story doesn’t have to end there. The organs and tissues not suitable for transplant may be donated for research purposes instead.
“Even though the benefit of research isn’t immediate like transplantation, it does benefit all humankind by helping understand disease processes, evaluating medicine efficacy, etc.,” said Live On Nebraska’s Chief Operations Officer Tom Woodford.
This ability and profound impact on medicine is something many family members and loved ones of a potential donor find healing.
“Our donor families want their loved one to help as many people as possible,” said Family Services Manager Amanda Brewer.
Brewer and her team of family support coordinators work with families and loved ones throughout the entire donation process and provide 13 months of aftercare following a donor’s donation.