Zac’s Story

“Children are bringing in their coins to school for Zac, and some are even asking their friends to come to their birthday party bringing something for Zac rather than for them. Sometimes the small things that people do are very heartfelt.”
– Deana Johnson, Cape Arthur, MD

For Deanna Johnson and her husband Brian of Cape Arthur, MD, a community bake sale or a fundraising fashion show means more than feeling closer to their neighbors. To them, it means saving the life of Zac, one of their 19-month-old twin sons who was born two months premature and has been diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis, a condition that attacks the tissues in the intestines, necessitating liver and small bowel transplants. As a result of their son’s critical condition, Deanna, Brian, and their other 19-month-old son Aidan have moved to a temporary home to be closer to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

They’ve been close to finding a donor, but so far a suitable match has not been made. With the help of the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) and local organizations such as the Severna Park Mom’s club and Mothers of Multiples (MOMS), the family has raised $33,000 of their original goal of $55,000, which is still a ways from what they’ll need to cover medical expenses as well as financial assistance since their Pittsburgh stay has extended longer than they anticipated. But because of the community’s impressive fundraising efforts, their new goal is $100,000. By September, which marks the end of the first year of fundraising, COTA will give $5,000 for every $25,000 raised.

The family remains optimistic and thankful for the support they’ve received. “We continue to be overwhelmed with everyone’s generosity‚Ķstrangers and friends,” Deanna says. “I can’t thank everyone enough for taking the financial stress away from our current situation so we can focus our attention on Zac and Aidan.

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Photo by Chris Joss

Photo: Deanna and Brian with Zac (left) and Aidan (right)