Zachary's
Story
MHE and Me
Zach and Thomas at
Ronald MacDonald House in Camden, NJ
Zachary  is 11 years old and was diagnosed with MHE at a year old. He is in the 6th grade at Mid Valley Middle School, in Pensylvania. He has a sister who is 20 and married and lives in New Jersey. His brother, Thomas, is 13 and never far from Zachary's side. Zachary has learned to love all sports because of his big brother's patience and determination. Zachary plays football, basketball, and baseball. In the summer he is always swimming in his pool with his brother and their friends.

Zachary inherited the disorder from his father who has had MHE since birth. Zachary's first surgery came at age 6 when his former Doctor in New Jersey removed a tumor behind his left knee, to relieve pressure from a nerve, and avoid "drop foot'. Two years ago, at the age of 9 his doctor discovered that his right leg was becoming increasingly longer than his left. In his left leg he had a valgus ankle and knee and LLD. It was shortly after that that his limp increased and his walking and running became affected. We realized without surgery Zachary would have a hard time continuing the activities that he loved so much and these things were important to him because they made him feel normal in regards to his healthy brother and friends. Faced with the dilemma of allowing a surgery that would stunt his growth potential or seek a second opinion, we were able to locate a Specialist at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Davidson was able to give Zachary the hope he needed when he performed a surgery in June of 2006. He removed several tumors in his ankle and realigned the growth plate, then attaching an external fixator, lengthening the tibia 1 inch after 4 months. Before surgery Zachary was picked for All-Stars in baseball and ten days after surgery he was insistent to attend his first game. Just sitting on the bench in the dugout with his friends helped him forget about his pain and helped speed his recovery time.
During all this time Zachary never gave up hope. Summer was now in full swing and swimming was not an option. He was not happy just floating on a raft, so he would walk hand-stands in the pool so his fixator would not touch water. In the beginning of August he signed up for football and towards the end of the month he started to go to football practice every night and every Sunday game as well. He was respected by his coaches and teammates and felt very proud of himself. He was able to keep his high hopes even though surgery had sidelined this very active boy. School started at the end of August and he rode the bus to school every day with his brother and friends. They would take turns carrying his backpack, He wasn't quite ready for basketball try outs so asked the coach if this year he could be the team manager, a job he takes very seriously. He goes to every practice and works on the drills and plays. Game nights he is there to cheer for his friends. Zachary still faces more surgery over the next couple of years to fully correct his leg. In January this year he returned to C.H.O.P for a routine checkup and the Doctor found some weakness in his right arm. (His pitching arm). He will probably be facing fixator surgery on both knees to correct his knock-knee and possibly shoulder surgery. Zachary plans on spending every moment until surgery "On The Run!"
Zachary has an amazing spirit and in spite of the pain, surgery and the stress he endures, he finds the strength to live his life in the best way he can. He feels he faces a wide variety of physical and emotional issues that stem from this disorder and wants to be treated "normally" and given a chance to grow emotionally. Not surprisingly he has found ways to adapt that allowed him to get this far . He is hopeful that he will play baseball for Little League this spring, as the starting pitcher, and one day be able to compete in High School sports. My bet is on him!!!
You can email Zachary at
olylions25@aol.com