In the midst of incredible sorrow over the loss of her son, a New Hartford mother recently made the difficult decision to donate his organs.
Monday, she and her family were honored by Hartford Hospital for that donation and for the first time she shared how she came to that decision with NBC Connecticut.
Zachary Dube was just 23-years old when he was killed in a hit-and-run crash in May. Authorities say he was struck by a pickup truck on Rt. 44 in Barkhamsted as he was riding his dirt bike.
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“The person who hit him had left him there. They left him there," said Zak's mother, Beth Mehmel-Dube.
State Police say they've found the vehicle involved, but not the driver. They say the case is still under investigation.
Taken from this world too soon, a decision by Zak’s family kept a part of him here on Earth.
“He just was a gift to me and everybody that he came in contact with. He was special," said his mom.
That's why Zak’s mom says it was only fitting that they donate his organs, giving four other people the gift of life. She says it wasn’t an easy decision but it was the right one.
“People who are out there waiting for a second chance at life because they’re hanging on by a thread, and then something like this happens, and that’s something that you can do to make a little bit of sense on this earth about this," she said through tears.
Monday, the family celebrated that gift at Hartford Hospital. Zak's sister raised the "Give Life" flag, while a friend sang Hallelujah. A letter from the family of a patient who received Zak's kidney was read. The hospital says a man in his 30's received one of Zak's kidney's while a woman in her 40's received the other. His liver went to a woman in her 60's and his heart saved the life of man in his 50's. Four lives saved. The hospital hopes will bring more attention to the need for organ donation.
"About 20 people die every day in the United States waiting for an organ donation to save their life,” Heather Paquin, Organ Donation Coordinator, LifeChoice Donor Services
She added that only one-percent of people die in a manner that will allow organ donation.
“For the most part that you need to be fairly healthy prior to your death," Paquin explained.
Zak’s family wasn't done giving. Through the sale of inspirational stickers, they donated $1,000 to the cause, keeping their son’s spirit alive as well.