Zach was born on October 14, 2007, a baby brother to four sisters. Jesse and Carmelita, his parents, were thrilled to have a boy complete their party of five.
But that excitement quickly faded. Less than a day passed before doctors told Carmelita that Zach would need surgery on his small intestine. The surgery went well, but 30 days later, Zach was back on the operating table. Two surgeries in his first month on earth.
Several months later, the blockages in Zach’s small intestine started to return. He couldn’t keep his food down.
In March of 2008, Zach hit rock bottom. His liver was failing and doctors told Jesse and Carmelita that their little boy, just months old, innocent and carefree, was going to die.
Just when Zach’s fate seemed set, a surgeon in San Antonio told the Bazas about a transplant team in Nebraska that could help their son. A week and three transplants later, Zach was finally healthy. His six-month birthday gift: a liver, a small bowel and a pancreas.
But troubles were not yet overcome. While Jesse, Carmelita, and their four daughters were thrilled, medical costs were mounting. When Carmelita lost her job, it only exacerbated the problem. So they reached out to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA).
By this time, many San Antonians had heard of the Bazas plight, and with the help of COTA, they raised money to help pay for Zach’s transplants.
What is August 1?
August 1 is National Minority Donor Awareness Day. The number of minorities waiting for organs is disproportionate to the American societal mosaic. For example, African Americans make up just 12 per cent of the population, but account for 32 per cent of the kidney transplant list, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.
Every August 1, charities like COTA help to raise awareness so more stories can end like the Baza family’s.
For more information on COTA, or to read more stories like Zach’s, visit www.cota.org.