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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - For 12 minutes in 2010, a seemingly healthy 11-year-old boy died in Wilmington.
For 12 minutes, doctors and nurses worked to resuscitate Zack Mayo. And for 12 minutes, Zack's parents, Wendy and Ernie, waited helplessly in another room.
"We were so distraught. But I remember hearing the cheer when they got a heartbeat," Wendy Mayo said.
It was the first day of summer vacation that June when Zack fell in his driveway and became disoriented.
"Our child was perfectly healthy one day and then all of a sudden boom, our life changed in an instant," said Wendy.
In those next moments, emergency workers tried to keep the Mayos informed, but Wendy admits it all happened so fast it was hard to process -- Zack had a rare diagnosis of liver cancer. It took a heroic effort to get Zack stabilized.
"And they had to give him blood transfusions through the rescue squad on the side of the road from here to Chapel Hill," Wendy said.
Blood transfusions that added up -- 54 units in the first 48 hours. Precious blood that kept him alive.
"It didn't ultimately cure his disease, but it gave us a year to be with him," Ernie Mayo said. Wendy added, "After that day they saved him, we had a whole 'nother year. What a precious gift. We didn't lose our son, suddenly, that day. We were able to say what we wanted to say and hug and love and just...just really continue to live."
It was a short year, a tough year, according to Ernie. They didn't get much good news. But they worked to make every day count.
"He saw the fight in us, we saw the fight in him," Ernie Mayo said. "And that gave us the ability to drive -- to move forward daily."
Zack's journey ended last May in the mountains of North Carolina, where he passed on peacefully with his father by his side.
"We know his life changed a lot of people and we know because they contact us and they let us know," Wendy said. "Because he had a lot of strength, a lot of fight and a lot of faith."
While the Mayos look for a way to honor their oldest son, they also want to thank the support group in the local community.
"We want to give back to the community best we can," Ernie said. "And there's a lot of different ways you can do that. It's not always the big things but the little things."
Thursday is one of those opportunities. The Mayos are helping to promote a blood drive for the American Red Cross. It will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Parsley Elementary School.
Copyright 2012 WECT. All rights reserved.
Courtesy of: Intracoastal Realty
Courtesy of: Intracoastal Realty Corporation