Erika Zak wanted to be there for her little girl and her husband. Though she got the liver she was waiting for, it was too late. She passed away during the transplant.
When we are sick and down, we often focus on ourselves and our family. However, some people in spite of being in the deepest pit try to do the best they can for people suffering like them. Erika Zak was such a mother. Even when she was vomiting blood and her skin was peeling, Erika spoke up for people like her who were struggling for a liver transplant. After all the fight she put up, Erika took her last breath on 23 August 2019.
According to CNN, 39-year-old Erika died during her transplant surgery at the Cleveland Clinic leaving behind her loving husband Scott Powers and 5-year-old daughter Loïe.
Erika, who has been looking forward to a transplant, was told about the availability of a suitable liver on 22 August 2019. After waiting more than a year for that, she was thrilled at the prospect of getting well and spending her life with her little girl and husband. However, things did not go as expected. Erika's deteriorated health and weak body could not go through with the transplant.
"Late yesterday the stars briefly aligned while we were at the hospital for an unrelated medical procedure and an organ miraculously became available right then for transplant. We were so excited and rushed our daughter in to spend a half-hour with Erika. She then quickly went into the OR, but deep into the surgery, her body couldn't handle some of the trauma apparently. She died in surgery," informed the family in a statement, reported CNN. They thanked every person who supported her cause and her family through their tough times. "Through her perseverance in life, Erika embodied hope and set an example of strength," said the family.
Her husband who is shattered by the death told CNN about how much Erika wanted to be healthy and alive for her daughter. "She loved Loïe more than anything, she fought desperately to be with her. It's just excruciating that she didn't get to spend a day or weeks or years healthy with Loïe," said Powers to CNN. He recalled how she never lost hope and her sense of humor even when she through intense pain and suffering.
Erika was sick for the past five years. Though life kept giving her sickness and making her weak, she often dreamed of the day she would be free of her illness. The devoted wife and mother took chemotherapy to treat colorectal cancer and underwent various procedures including a microwave ablation surgery that left a hole in her liver. Even when her health insurance company denied her financial support for her transplant, the determined mother fought for it. She encouraged people to become organ donors and advocated for several people who were uncertain about a liver transplant. Erika's death is not only a loss to her a family but also to the people whom she inspired.
"She was such a powerful voice for liver patients facing the uncertainty of liver transplantation. For so many people, the waiting and inability to have control over their treatment and destiny puts patients and their families through incredible pain and distress. It is my hope that all of those who have been touched by her story dedicate themselves to make sure there are no more Erika Zaks," said Thomas Nealon, the president and CEO of the American Liver Foundation.
Though she is no more, she left behind millions of people who will speak and advocate for the cause. The family has started a GoFundMe Page for her funeral expenses.