2017 was a challenging year for 10-year-old Zach Pickard, but at first glance of his smile and rolling laughter, you would never expect it.
Zach is among 144 children in the world who suffer from rapid aging syndrome, otherwise known as progeria. This extremely rare and fatal genetic disease makes people age prematurely. At birth, children with progeria look healthy, but then begin to show signs of old age in early infancy. Life expectancy is extremely low. To learn more about progeria, click here.
Zach recently completed a grueling 7 hour surgery that helped repair his hip socket that was confining him to a wheelchair. Zach’s life was had been previously limited to sitting.
Varus Derotation oesteotomy (VDRO) surgery is used to tip the ball of the femur back into the hip socket. Plates and screws are then used to stabilize the bone into the right position.
Zach’s parents, Brandon and Tina, left the decision up to Zach, who chose the surgery. It took place on September 20th at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. It was a painful seven hours. There was so much uncertainty, risk, and fear circulating around, with the lingering possibility that there wasn’t enough skin to stitch up in Zach’s small body.
Zach was far from a grumpy patient, and did it all with confidence and positivity. He successfully gained a well needed pound and a half.
The Pickards are hoping that Zach could take part in a new progeria drug trial taking place in Boston that could increase the life expectancy of patients.
After Zach’s surgery, he was met with a new family pet, Carmen the dog. She’s the newest addition to the family and has already cozied up to Zach as she frequently rubs her face against him for head pats. Carmen has fallen in love with Zach as they both weigh the same.
Zach is currently being home schooled so he doesn’t fall behind. He proves his strength through his long walks across the family room with his metal walker. He stops, flexes his arms and raises himself off the ground using the walker like a little warrior.
2018 is already looking up.
Read more about this story in the Hartford Times.