Erika Zak (39) is a mother who inspired millions of people through her fight for a liver transplant, died during surgery. She died shortly after they told her a liver is available on Thursday afternoon, and her transplant team prepared her for the surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, according to Scott Powers, her husband.
When she heard the news, she got excited and her family was also happy and hopeful that everything would be good. Before she went into surgery, Erika spent some time with her 5-year-old daughter, Loie.
“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,” the family said in a statement. “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.”
“While our family is devastated by the loss of our beautiful wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, we do want to express our deepest gratitude to all of those who have supported Erika and our family through these very difficult weeks, months and years. Through her perseverance in life, Erika embodied hope and set an example of strength.”
Erika Zak was a cancer survivor and in an interview said that her liver disease was excruciating and it was the worst thing that has ever happened to her. Still, she didn’t lose her hope and her sense of humor.
Her final words that she said when she talked about the disease and why she was speaking up are: “It just feels like everything is a battle, and it shouldn’t be that way. It sucks because most people don’t know that they can fight back.”
“There’s more that I want to see; more life I want to live,” she said.
Of death, she said, “I’m more scared of what I leave behind.”
“I basically spend a lot of time daydreaming about what I would want to do with Loie and Scott if I was healthy and where I would want to go,” she said.
And in one of her final posts, she posted a poem on grief by Emily Dickinson:
“I measure every Grief I meet
With analytic eyes;
I wonder if It weighs like mine,
Or has an easier size.
I wonder if they bore it long,
Or did it just begin?
I could not tell the date of mine
It feels so old a pain.
I wonder if it hurts to live,
And if they have to try,
And whether, could they choose between,
They would not rather die.
I wonder if when years have piled —
Some thousands — on the cause
Of early hurt, if such a lapse
Could give them any pause.”
Even as her hearth worsened she didn’t stop urging people to become organ donors and save the lives of others. Let’s all take a moment to celebrate this wonderful soul. May she rest in peace.