Progeria patient dies

By Carrie Coppernoll Published: January 25, 2006
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STILLWATER - An Oklahoma boy diagnosed with progeria, a rare aging disease, died Monday night at age 3.

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Zachary Moore of Stillwater died at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa of respiratory complications, his father, Keith Moore, said Tuesday.

"The main thing that everyone needs to know is it's truly not a day to be sad, even though it's tough and we'll miss him, he said. "He's in heaven now.

"He's completed his mission.

Zachary was one of an estimated seven people in the nation diagnosed with progeria, a disease characterized by advanced aging in children. Progeria affects one baby out of about 4 million to 8 million, according to the Progeria Research Foundation. Children with progeria usually die from cardiovascular disease at an average age of 13.

Services were pending Tuesday afternoon.

"He seemed to have done a lot in his 3½ years, said Richard Poe, minister of the Stillwater Church of Christ, where Zachary's family is well-known.

"He seemed to have an impact on people, an influence.

The Moores rely heavily on their faith, Poe said.

"I think they realized God placed Zachary with them for a while, he said, "and that they were good parents and took care of this little one God entrusted to them.

A father's thoughts

Keith Moore kept a journal of his experiences with his son. He reflected on fun times, his fears as a parent and how Zachary inspired him, his family and others.

"It is so hard for me to put him down to sleep each night, he wrote Feb. 21, 2005. "Every time I do the thought crosses my mind that this may be the last time I see him alive. I constantly wake up at night to check on him. I always want to make sure that I take a good look at him since it seems so possible it may be the last.

But like the rest of his family, Keith Moore focuses on the positive parts of Zachary's life, as he wrote June 16, 2005: "Our experience with Zachary has left me with no complaints.

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Zachary’s Log: by Keith Moore

Following are pages from a log kept by Zachary’s father, Keith Moore:

February 21, 2005: I took Zach and Heidi to Boomer Lake to walk the trail today. They had great fun in the stroller. We let Rock practice his retrieves for a while and they both clapped for him. Zach was so excited to go over the wooden bridge and see the ducks. He waved and said bye to the ducks as we strolled away.

It is so hard for me to put him down to sleep each night. Every time I do the thought crosses my mind that this may be the last time I see him alive. I constantly wake up at night to check on him. I always want to make sure that I take a good look at him since it seems so possible it may be the last. After 2½ years I still have not gotten used to this routine. Through my faith I have complete happiness in our situation though. I know that I would not do anything different. I constantly analyze our actions to ensure I maintain a course that I won’t later regret. I always come back to the core elements of why we are all here. I remember what those are and realize that is exactly what Zachary is doing. I cannot say that for myself, certainly not all the time. So with that in mind I know that Zachary is doing what God wants him to be doing. That is what matters. These days the only sadness I get about our situation with Zach is the fact that if he leaves us soon, I will not have my “in the flesh” spiritual guide.

And that is a selfish thought, so I do not let that keep me sad, but instead I rejoice in whatever time I have with Zachary.

May 16, 2005: Lately when I think about Zachary and ask why he is the way he is and analyze how is able to deal with it I come up with this. On one hand he is like an angel sent from heaven to do God’s work. But then when I analyze the situation and compare with others I realize that all of us could be the same as this. We all deal with tragedy, hardship, pain, suffering, and eventually death. Zach’s life is not different than ours. He may have more pain than the average person. He may die sooner than the average person. The key word is average. That does not mean he will have the most painful and shortest life. There are no “guaranteed rates” in these areas of life. There are no guidelines on what is fair in life. We all are going to experience these things. The only thing we can control is what we do with the situations we are faced with. As far as the length of our lives that is a certain unknown. That is why it is so important to do God’s work now! If Zachary and others like him are doing God’s work so diligently so can all of us. God wants us all to do his work. It does not matter what your current status in life is. Examples may be you are suffering from illness, busy with your career, fighting in a war, living in a war-stricken town, serving time in prison, etc. The list goes on and on and you need to ask yourself, what is your status? Is it so that you do not have time for God? I struggle with this every day and with my every action. Especially when I consider how easy of a life that I currently have.

June 16, 2005: When I consider the 3 years of Zachary’s life and try to sum up the experience it amazes me. While there have been some tough times for Zachary all I can think about is all the fun we’ve had and more importantly all the good work he has accomplished. I think about all the laughter we shared, places he’s been, friends he has made, and people he has inspired. He even managed to do these things during hospital stays. His attitude has never faltered. While we do strive for better health for him, we do love the person he is. Our experience with Zachary has left me with no complaints. He is happy and so is his family. He has inspired me to accept that when life presents tragedy or hardships that is merely part of living. Everybody will experience these things and it will not be our choice to do so. It is our choice, however, on how we manage our life when and after these things occur. The answers are easy, it is the actions that often come difficult to us. Zachary is living proof that if you follow God’s way you will be rewarded with happiness.

January 17, 2006: Zach is the leader of our family. I try to live up to his example. I try to maintain an attitude and commitment to serve to equal his. This all in spite of the fact that he has it tougher than all of us put together. He has been tested at a young age and he is passing his test. His condition has allowed him the chance to inspire many others. He has not let God down. Not even once. Zach is on his way to heaven. That is what I strive for every day and I often fail. I have no excuses for my failures. All I can do is understand what God wants for me and my family and live God’s way.

January 24, 2006: We can cry for Zachary, however we ought to be rejoicing in his complete life. Zach figured out at a young age his purpose. The purpose of serving God. That is our sole purpose. We can spend years trying to figure this out, or get around this fact, or attempt to find satisfaction through earthly possessions. But once we finally figure it out then and only then are we satisfied and God satisfied with us. Zach seems to have done this from day one through his final day here on earth. As a father there is no more than I could hope for in a son to accomplish. Zach has fulfilled his purpose and has accomplished his mission. Let us realize through him that is the same mission we are all on. When we are weak, doubting, or asking for answers to life’s questions, remember Zach and his life he led for us all to witness.

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