News

Meningococcal survivor Zaac Dow is a tough battler

Mike Richards

LITTLE Zaac Dow is one hell of a fighter.

Meningococcal disease did its best to take the five-year-old's life three years ago.

Zaac's battle to live came at a terrible cost - surgeons had to amputate his right leg below the knee.

Mum Simone Johnson, who is raising seven children with husband George, said she would never forget Easter, 2012 when a strange ailment struck down her precious little boy.

"He wasn't himself, he was very lethargic, tired, withdrawn - he wasn't himself at all," the 37-year-old courier driver recalled.

"I knew something wasn't right so I lay down with him.

"During the night he tossed and turned constantly.

"About 6.30am the next morning we noticed a small mark above his nappy line - it was a dark purplish colour.

"Within minutes we noticed small dots coming up on his face we immediately knew something was wrong."

Hospital doctors pumped Zaac's writhing body with antibiotics as his family struggled to comprehend the pain he was going through.

"All I knew was my son was squirming with pain and I couldn't do anything to help him," Ms Johnson said.

"Seeing my child in so much pain and not being able to help him was so excruciating."

Not long after they arrived at the hospital the unthinkable happened - Zaac's heart stopped.

"When he flat-lined my sister Nicole tried to hold me up and we both fell to the floor," Ms Johnson said. "All I could think was 'I've lost my son'.

"I started to say to God 'Please don't take my boy'."

The little boy and his mother were flown to Brisbane and a few hours later a team of medical experts worked through the night to keep him alive.

"I watched my son hooked up to so many machines pumping so many antibiotics into his body, watched his

body swell to the size of a balloon.

"Watching his leg die was excruciating."

Three years later and Zaac is on the verge of getting a prosthetic limb.

He travels to Brisbane's Lady Cilento Hospital twice yearly so plastic surgeons can release the tensions on his scars to ensure his body can grow properly.

"Zaac will always have obstacles to overcome in life," Ms Johnson said.

"We are currently trying to get a prosthetic leg with a knee joint in it, which will require rehabilitation to teach him how to use it."

Without the Children's Hospital Foundation Queensland, the impact of Zaac's ongoing hospitalisation would have been much worse for the family.

"The foundation has always been there," Ms Johnson said. "They were there from the start dealing with the smallest of things to the largest things so we didn't have to worry about it."

As Christmas approaches, Ms Johnson is looking forward to spending time with her family but she said she would love nothing more than to take her brood on a holiday.

"My ultimate Christmas wish to one day take the kids to Brisbane and stay at one of the resorts and take them to a theme park for a couple of days," she said.

"I would love to be able to afford to take time off and spend it with the kids making adventures for them every day.

"Time passes so quickly and you need to cherish every bit of time you have with them."

- APN NEWSDESK

Topics:  gladstone, health, meningococcal disease, survivors




7 Gladstone jobs up for grabs right now

There are two jobs up for grabs at Heron Island.

Ever wanted to live and work on an island?

School locked down after student 'approached'

LOCK DOWN: Toolooa SHS went into lock down yesterday as a precaution.

Gladstone high school in lock down to protect staff and students.

'Evasive action': Qantas landing scare at Gladstone Airport

SLOWDOWN: Passenger numbers at Gladstone Airport are expected fall dramatically in the next 12 months.

A QantasLINK plane diverted on landing

Latest deals and offers

Gladstone couple's spontaneous Gympie Muster wedding

Craig Oglesby and Brenda Strong celebrate their wedding at the Gympie Muster with punters in front of the Main Stage.

The Gympie Music Muster was the perfect place for a wedding.

Australian Survivor's Peter: I'm no quitter

Australian Survivor contestant Peter Fiegehen.

ILLNESS forces castaway's early exit from Samoa.

Diva's sister on soliciting charge

FILE - In this May 14, 2016 file photo, Mariah Carey attends the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, in New York. Carey will appear on the Oct. 5 episode of the Fox series, \"Empire,\" the network confirmed Monday at a TV critics bi-annual press tour. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

Mariah Carey's sister has been arrested on charges of prostitution.

Tom Cruise private jets his gym kit around the world

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise charters private to take his gym kit around the world

Movie behind Depp and Heard split to be released

Soon you'll be able to see the movie that ended the marriage

Bindi's boyfriend helps release huge croc

Chandler (far right) helped the jump team.

Chandler Powell helps catch Duncan the croc

Palm Lake Resort set to move in to Coast with 276 villas

Palm Lake Group has been given approval by Sunshine Coast Council to build a 276-villa over 50s resort and 120-bed aged care facility at the intersection of Caloundra Rd and Caloundra Mooloolaba Rd in Little Mountain.

New facility planned for Caloundra Rd

Warning for unit investors with price plummet prediction

The warning signs are flashing for one real estate sector in 2017 despite others performing the best they have in years and it's not going to be pretty.

One real estate sector looks set for a rocky 2017

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m