Zachary was my firstborn. He was loved and nurtured right from conception. I anticipated his arrival with great excitement and when the day finally arrived on November 26, 1994 I was amazed with this tiny wee baby that God had gifted me with.

Zachary was 6lb13oz with beautiful bronzed skin, dark hair and blue eyes (which over a period of time turned green and then brown by the time he was 2). Right from the beginning Zachary stood out. He was a quiet baby, and then a very deep and thoughtful toddler, often needing times of quiet where I would put him in his cot on his own with a couple of books and a few toys. He could stay happily like this for an hour or more.

When Zachary was 17 1/2 months old I gave birth to Jordan. Zak loved Jordy and was always helpful with his younger brother. A bond developed between the two boys and they became best of friends, although at times best of enemies as well. Zachary was the melancholy, orderly, routine one of the two...Jordan was sanguine, easily led, and quite often, bossed around by Zak. When Zachary was 3 years 9 months old, Kimberley was born. Early scans had revealed that she had a growth in her abdomen above her left kidney. It was thought to be cancerous. When she was 4 weeks old she went into surgery to have the growth removed. We hoped and prayed for a positive outcome, yet we anticipated the worst. Our prayers were answered and our baby girl has since survived, unscathed. It was not cancerous as the specialists had thought. We were jubilant.

Zachary loved his sister. He was a real mentor and friend to her. She idolised him. She bothered him silly to do things with her. He would often make her breakfast in the mornings before I was up and about, and then have it all clean and tidy for me. I once found Zachary and Jordan in the dining room with Kimberley on an upturned washing basket when she was about 2 1/2. They had all decided that they were going to cut her hair. When I arrived, it was too late. They had taken a huge big chunk from of the side of her hair. I cried that day. The boys both looked at me in amazement, thinking "Mum must be really upset for her to be crying".

When Zachary was almost 6, his father and I separated. I was 3 months pregnant again. Zachary adapted well and had a real adult outlook on things. He was my rock and my friend, so much like I was as a child. I expected a lot from him, and he gave a lot. I rewarded him with lots of time spent with me, on our own. We would often cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie or 'stargate' at night, those were very special times!

I gave birth to Brody, another boy, when Zachary was 6 years 4 months. It was a very hectic time. Zachary, once again was a great help, always eager to please.

Zachary loved books right from early on, and this showed through into his personality. He taught himself to read when he was 4 years old, and from then onwards he was like a sponge on a quest for knowledge. At 7 years old he had a reading age of a 12-15 year old. He had brilliant comprehension and retention for all that he read. He loved to learn about geography and weather patterns and dinosaurs. He was amazed at the diversity of the world and all that it held. With this ability to understand also came fear. He would read about volcanoes, lahars, hurricanes, tidal waves etc., and he would need to be reassured that his mortality was not being compromised. He loved his life. He didn't like the thought of it being cut short.

However on the morning of November 12, 2002, events took a drastic turn that would change our world forever.

A normal morning (if there was such a thing) in our household, the kids were up and about. Zachary and Jordan went about their morning chores. It was raining and the clouds were grey and rather dark. By 7:30, we were all up and the house was a buzz with activity, the kids had packed their school bags and Zak was keen to go to school. Jordy was not so keen.

The school bus normally came around 7:55am each day. The next door neighbours’ daughter and their exchange student also caught the bus which took them to College. I was preparing breakfast for Brody and Kimberley, while the children’s father was in the shower. Most mornings I would watch the kids board the bus from the kitchen window (some 200m from the road).

The boys, dressed in their heavy jackets, hoods up, school bags on, began to walk down the drive for the bus. Our neighbour had already taken her teenage children to the end of the drive in the car because of the rain and was parked close to the road. The bus was a little early that day. The older students saw the bus approaching and left the parked car to cross the road. The rain began to fall harder, I was watching my boys. A late model station wagon was coming through the bends by the Stone House toward the straight into Waipu Cove, 800m away from our driveway. Our kids were about 50m from the end of the driveway when the bus pulled up and they began to run. Our neighbour was about to back the car up and return home when she saw the boys running in her rear vision mirror. Zachary was in front, Jordy behind in 'wait for me' mode. She watched as Zachary went flying past her passenger side door. From my vantage point in the kitchen I was thinking 'watch out for the road Zachary', and I verbalized this loudly, knowing full well that he would never hear me. The driver of the stationwagon was watching the bus to his right. Zachary raced past the parked car and with several metres to go before the road, he didn't stop! At 7 years old, only 12 days before his eighth birthday, the passenger side wing mirror of the stationwagon was exactly the right height for Zachary who was head down (to avoid the rain in his eyes) and running at speed, focused on the waiting bus.

Neither the driver nor Zachary saw each other as the mirror of the car instantly fractured Zachary's scull. Jordan, and many children on the bus saw what followed. The impact threw him several metres into the air, his head crashing into the large crushed stone on the verge of the road. The shattered lunch box in his school bag indicated it may have saved him from damage to his back and lower body, cushioning him as he landed but the left leg fractured as the rest of him plummeted to the ground. I let out a blood curdling scream “Zachary's been hit by a car” were the words that exploded from my mouth. My children’s father made a quick exit out of the shower, toothbrush still in hand and rushed for the door. I immediately called 111, as the children’s father raced down the driveway in his jandals and jeans. Once there, he was oblivious to the cold and rain and he gently moved Zak into the recovery position and tried to clear his airway of blood and mucus. Zak was unconscious, gasping for breath, and his pulse was only just there.

Our neighbour made her way back to our house, to watch my other children so I could go out to the roadside to be with my eldest son. We waited for 30 minutes until an ambulance arrived from the nearest town. Once he had been checked by the paramedics, they called for the rescue helicopter. During the time from impact till then, Zachary's brain had begun to starve of oxygen and we waited a further 20 minutes for the rescue helicopter to arrive. We decided that I would go with Zak on the air flight to Whangarei. I went to pack some essentials and check on Jordan, Kimberley and Brody who were being looked after by the neighbour. During all of this, there were many willing and helpful hands. Someone got blankets, jackets and sheltered us from the rain. Police had the traffic under control; the bus driver had given his statement and had taken the other children to school. Zachary was placed on a stretcher ready for the helicopter; he was drugged up and somewhat under control. The paramedics from the helicopter took over. They did all they could and flew Zachary and myself to Whangarei.

An initial scan indicated severe swelling in the brain. Whangarei hospital could not pinpoint any one place to drain the head and they decided that he needed specialized care. He was to go to Starship hospital.

My sister Philippa and her friend arrived at the house to help take care of my other children. Kimberley (being so young) knew there was something wrong but was unable to grasp the implications. Jordan was quiet, sort of in shock but he knew 'it was not good that which had happened to Zak'. Brody was merely a baby, not comprehending the situation for what it was.

The helicopter flight to Auckland was quick and apart from slight turbulence, was reasonably uneventful, although I found out the next day that Zachary’s life had hung in the balance for most of that flight. The medical professionals on board certainly gave nothing away.

Zachary was wheeled up to intensive care where a huge array of doctors and nurses worked quickly to stabilize him. I sat and watched this whole process, scared for my son yet I knew that he was in the best of hands. A little while later a couple of surgeons came up to intensive care and performed emergency surgery on Zachary’s brain, placing a drain in the spinal fluid, hoping to release some pressure in any way they could. Zachary remained in a stable condition during the remainder of that day and throughout the night.

The following day a second brain scan was organized, and when the results returned that afternoon it shocked me into a numb state. I remember the intensive care head-doctor giving me the details, yet they were words I struggled to comprehend and I certainly did not want hear them. She said that Zachary’s brain had swollen to a point where it couldn’t expand any more. It had begun to die and there was no chance that the damage would be reversed. At that moment I knew that I would never again, see my son laugh or smile, eat his favourite meal or tell me that he loved me. Emotions choked in my throat and I wanted to scream out loud, but I was confronted by the reality, my reality!

That evening phone calls were made, and loved ones were called in to say their “goodbye’s” to Zachary, and so the following morning around 50 family and friends, including the gentleman who drove the stationwagon that hit Zachary, and his whanau, gathered at Starship to say their fond farewells. Zachary was hooked up to the life-support monitors during this time and before anybody entered to see him, for one last time I helped to dress him, wash his face and even brushed his teeth.

On November 14th, 2002 at 4.45pm my son Zachary was pronounced ‘brain dead’.

Approximately one month prior to Zachary’s accident I had had a conversation with him regarding the word ‘donor’ on my drivers’ license. When the finer details were explained to him he exclaimed that he thought it would be a ‘very nice thing to do’ if you didn’t need your body any more, so when Janice asked us if we would consider donating Zachary’s organs, we knew that it was our little boys’ choice and that we would gift the parts of his body that he had no use for any more.

That evening Zachary was wheeled into surgery, the last surgery of his short life. Five or so hours later Zachary was back in intensive care, minus the life-support system that kept him alive. He was so still and his lips were without colour and I was rather taken aback at his lifeless body. However, I asked the nurses if they could help place him on my lap as I sat; I stroked his brow, absorbed his gorgeous features, created a map in my mind of every freckle and distinguishing feature on his body, and I cried and cried and cried for hours.

The next few days were made up of funeral arrangements and decisions and it was really quite a blur. On November 20th, six days before Zachary’s 8th birthday we buried my firstborn, what a heartbreaking moment to watch the casket being lowered into the ground, knowing that I would not see my baby again in this lifetime.

Four and a half years on, We are ecstatic to know that the recipients are continuing to do well. Their lives are a testament to Zachary’s wishes and I extend my love and care to them all.

I want to thank Charlotte. She was the 18 year old girl who performed CPR on Zachary on the roadside that day. It is thanks to her that we had the small pocket of time to spend with Zachary before he left this world, and it is thanks to her that we had the opportunity to honour Zachary’s last and most powerful wish. His gift of life…

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