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Erika Zak dies during a liver transplant



PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland's mother, Erika Zak, who fought for her life while waiting for a liver transplant, died in an operation Wednesday.

After Zak outperformed the statistics and survived stage 4 colon cancer a few months later, her daughter was born, undergoing a botched surgery that left her liver with a fist-sized hole.

Zak had been waiting for a liver for 15 months. On Wednesday, she was finally given one. Unfortunately, her body could not survive the surgery that may have saved her life.

  Erika Zak with her daughter

Erika Zak with her daughter

Family

She had been waiting for a liver for more than a year for insurance reasons.

Her body deteriorated with each passing day.

She eventually won the fight with her insurance company United Health, but quickly became involved in another – with the United Network for Organ Sharing or UNOS.

You decide if someone lives or does not die.

UNOS has recently changed its rules to specify who gets transplanted when. They said they had made the scoring system more consistent to help as many people as possible.

The changes, however, reduced Zak's score and reduced the chances of her getting a new liver, even though doctors called for a new organ for her to singularize her illness.

Her husband said in a statement on behalf of her family:

"We lost Erika this morning. Late yesterday, the stars straightened out when we were in the hospital for an independent medical procedure, and an organ miraculously became available for transplantation. We were so excited and got our daughter to spend half an hour with Erika. She then went to the surgery quickly, but deep in the operation her body apparently could not handle the trauma. She died in surgery. While our family has been devastated by the loss of our beautiful wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all who have supported Erika and our family in these very difficult weeks, months and years. Through her perseverance in life, Erika embodied hope and gave an example of strength.

Not only did they struggle through a hopeless health insurance system, but Zak and her family said they had learned this hard truth as well: America's Transplantation The system is broken.

If you want to help Zak's family, you can make a donation to the Erika Zak Memorial Fund at GoFundMe.

Her family asks that people sign up as an organ donor at organdonor.gov in Erika's memory.

Earlier coverage:

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