This is a repost from my sister's blog. ZakNate: A Story of Love
This is a love story. It is not just any love story about romance but a story of a little baby and how his love for life in his own simple way inspired and touched the lives of many people. On May 27, 2010, a baby boy was born of Mc and Diane on their fourth try. The couple were so happy because finally their prayers have been answered. They had stable jobs in their young age, eager to start a family and it was Zackery Mc Nathan or Baby Nate, the name of their first born, who completed their little family. Little did they know from the moment Baby Nate opened his eyes to the moment God closed it, this little baby would have changed the lives of thousands of people around the world.
Mc and Diane were prayerful people. Both were good christians and active in catholic groups. Mc works for advertising and Insurance while Diane works in a printer company. They only wanted a healthy child. Like any newly married couple, they were not sure whether they would make good parents but when Baby Nate came into their lives they made a conviction to be the best parents they could ever be and vowed to raise Baby Nate close to the Lord. On the first week of Nate's little life, he was diagnosed with two congenital defects, one, he has a dilated left kidney and second, that he had an incomplete heart. His heart does not have any pulmonary artery which gives essential life-giving oxygenated blood from his heart to his lungs and the reason that he is surviving is the miracle of life which astounded the doctors that there are small veins connecting his heart directly to his lungs. Veins that are not supposed to be there! As the doctor said, "The baby wants to live". Because of his dilated kidney, he was having Urinary Track Infections almost at a regular basis from the day he was born. That was why in the first 3 months of Baby Nate's life, he was in and out of the hospital and so his parents and the doctors opted to correct his kidney defect. They did a series of tests and ultrasound on Baby Nate to be able to consider a suitable approach to correct his dilated kidney. Initially, they didn't want to operate on his kidney directly or to consider removing it because of Nate's heart condition and so they did a procedure on Baby Nate by attaching a catheter directly to his left kidney in order for his urine to come out. On the second procedure, they sliced him up in the operating room and were shocked to see that behind the defective left kidney, there was another left kidney! This condition was called "double collecting system" wherein a person was not born of 2 kidneys but 3! The "extra" left kidney was healthy and so the doctor did not think twice and removed the defective left kidney which ultimately cured Baby Nate from his UTI's completely. The third kidney was never found in any of the tests they did initially on the baby and so they believed that Jesus came and put that extra left kidney inside Baby Nate the night before. This was truly a miracle. The next thing to correct was his incomplete heart.
Where we found the pieces of his heart..
Mc and Diane had stable jobs. However, due to the repeated hospitalizations of Baby Nate due to the recurring UTI's and the two major kidney surgeries, they have exhausted their savings and resources just to heal their son. They were asked to prepare at least Php 1,000,000.00 or at most US $25,000 for the next succeeding procedures to correct his kidney and his heart, money which they could not get in such a short span of time. All they could do was pray for God's intervention and His intervention did they get. Everyone surrounding them, family and friends, all who love Baby Nate, made efforts to raise his funds. Some loaned their personal money, while some gave it freely without any condition. While the couple was busy sending solicitation letters to various people to sponsor Nate's surgery, a fanpage was started on a Social Network called "Facebook" last September 2010. The fanpage was created with the hopes that this could reach a wider scope as to asking for help for Baby Nate's surgery. Since it was understandable that they could not possibly ask anybody for such a huge amount, they started the "P100 drive for Nate's Heart from your heart" campaign this March 2011 on an effort that with pebbles they could build a mountain.
God works in mysterious ways. Because of Baby Nate's fanpage, a columnist from the Manila Bulletin, Kcat, read his story and was inspired to make a column of Baby Nate. Though she herself was suffering from Neofibromitosis Type 2, she wanted to help in any way that she can. Little did she know, her article was the reason for the couples prayers to be answered and the "P100 drive for Nate's heart" leaped in bounds. The article (http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/309207/p100-nathan-s-heart) was finally published and caught attention of people from anywhere in the Philippines and all over the world who donated not just P100 but more denomination to help fix Baby Nate's incomplete heart. Eventually, they raised just enough to get Baby Nate a cardiac catheter and eventually they were able to schedule his open heart surgery: His first of two.
God never stopped caring for Nate as the graces for him to be able to get his surgery never stopped pouring. He needed 8 people to donate type A+ blood for his surgery (7 bags and 1 live donor). It was only hours before the surgery that they were able to complete this requirement because they had to do the surgery in Manila, a place where this young family from Cebu was not familiar with. People with gracious hearts, those who came from Cebu who took the next flight to Manila just to give blood for Baby Nate, even strangers from the hospital gave their own blood in an effort to help this little baby, and people who were not familiar of his story but wanted to help by giving their own blood were the final pieces of God's plan to make sure the surgery was going to push through.
Faith in God's will-Nate's death
People were praying for the success of his surgery. As Mc and Diane took Baby Nate to the Operating Room, they prayed for him to be strong and prayed for his healing. Diane watched her baby's confused eyes as the nurses took Baby Nate. It was the last look Baby Nate ever gave to her.
Baby Nate was just starting to grow up, he just learned how to stand on his crib alone while he held tightly to the edge of his crib to support his wobbly body. Baby Nate had just started teething. At 11 months old, Baby Nate could only say the words "Mama" or "Dada" and some baby sounds. But even though he couldn't speak well, Baby Nate was good at communicating how he felt. Though he couldn't say "I love you", Baby Nate loved his mommy and he showed it every time his eyes lit up when he sees her enter the room and beckons her to carry him. When he cries, he immediately stops if his mommy picks him up. For Diane, to feel Baby Nate's tiny hugs, it felt the world has hugged her and even before his heart surgery, he only wanted his mommy to carry him. Baby Nate loved his dad and how his dad loved his mom. Baby Nate cries every time his parents enter an argument, he doesn't want to see and hear his dad angry. He was very smart and he loved to learn the many tricks his parents taught him. From making silly sounds to making waving actions and other gestures, Baby Nate wanted to learn them all. Oh how his parents were so excited for his first birthday, the gifts that they were going to buy him, the toy push cart they were eyeing on, and the school they will put him into when he is healthy and strong, the good Christian values they already have started inculcating into him and how they longed for the day they can wake up and see their son smiling at them beside their bed healthy and strong.
"THY WILL BE DONE"
God had other plans for Baby Nate different from his parents. For one reason or another, 12:15 AM Six hours after the successful surgery, Nate suffered a cardiac arrest. The doctors tried to revive him for two hours but his heart did not respond. His parents, as much as they wanted to beg him to fight, talked to Baby Nate in their heads in silence, told their precious little one to let go if he is tired and to stop fighting and go to God. Baby Nate was declared expired 1:53 AM, May 12, 2011. He was 11 months old. Many people lost pieces of their hearts that day.
He never stopped caring..
Baby Nate's death came as a shock, it was what the doctors warned that the very difficult medical procedure had a very high fatality risk but he needs this surgery nonetheless so as to save his life because the veins suporting his life will eventually collapse and Baby Nate will eventually deteriorate as he grows up. But when Baby Nate was taken away so soon and almost immediately after the success of his surgery, nobody wanted to accept it. People cried and became angry some even passed on regret. Fear of the medical costs and his funeral cost haunted Mc and Diane aside from the grief they felt for losing their child. The hospital threatened not to release Baby Nate's body because they couldn't settle their bill. The funeral home was also taking so long to process his transfer back to Cebu and also they needed to rebook their tickets (additional cost) which was scheduled that they were going to go home the next week still. Again, they turned to God and he immediately answered, God never fails. They were finally able to book their ticket in the evening of the next day after Nate's death. On their way back to Cebu, there was a fear that the family could not go home together. Baby Nate was transferred to the cargo of an earlier flight and the couple couldn't rebook at the last minute. Diane promised Nate that she would go home together with him and it would devastate her if she can't go home together. As they explained to the staff of the airline the situation, compassion filled their hearts and the general manager removed them from the No.8 spot of the transient passenger waiting list and rebooked them immediately on the same flight with Nate. Behind the Business Class, free of charge. Mc says he told Baby Nate in his head, "Langga, please help your mommy. She will be heart broken if she can't go home with you." and Baby Nate must have whispered to God this request as he made sure the family went home together and they were finally able to hold a proper funeral for Baby Nate at the last minute. But there was still one problem, How can they afford Nate's burial? They were again asked to prepare at least P250,000 for his burial lot but they exhausted all their money for Baby Nate's hospital and medical bills and all they had left was faith.
With God, when it rains it pours. PCSO granted P200,000 love donation for Baby Nate a few days after his funeral, people from all over the land came and gave donations for Baby Nate and also, a kind soul offered to sell a lot in the cemetery and pay when able. Nothing was planned by man, but everything was already foreseen by God and he never left Mc, Diane and Baby Nate's side in the end and continue to shower them blessings through the acts of people around them. Their payment in the hospital was held in trust by it and if somebody would pay back the full amount then the hospital would return to the couple the money. However, No price on earth could pay the loss of Baby Nate.
Farewell Baby Nate
On the day we buried him, the unpredictable weather was threatening to not cooperate with us, the sky was cloudy and there was a possibility of rainfall. I remember praying to myself, "Please Lord, don't let it rain so we can bury him properly. He is already in your arms so let us part with him properly here on Earth." God heard my prayers and it seemed that heaven was also teary eyed to have lost an angel. Our Baby Nate is now laid to rest and we who are left here on Earth are forced to move on without his toothless smile and giggles. So many people came to bid him farewell. We wrote messages on little cards attached on 100 white balloons (3 dozen for every 3 months he lived) and released them to the sky as we put him inside his final resting place.
Nate's heart was finally completed because the surgery was a success. One could say his incomplete heart was made whole because everyone gave a piece of their heart to him. How his parents loved him and cherished every moment with him, how friends and family did all they can to raise money for his surgery and burial, How strangers from different parts of the whole world and in the Philippines who loved him and donated money to him even if they haven't met him nor did they know his parents. When he left us, a piece of us went with him. Now he faces God and Baby Nate could tell the Lord, "Father God, My heart is now complete, look at the many people who gave their hearts to me" and God would answer him, "I know my child, that's why I gave you to your parents and everyone down on Earth for them to remember my greatest gift to man."
"Zackery" means "God Remembers" and "Nathan" means "God's gift".
God remembers his gift for those who put their faith in him and this gift was none other than "love".
The Alvarado couple is one of the core members of Let It Echo group. Let It Echo is a non-profit organization consisting of heart parents and individuals who have gone through the ordeal of having children with congenital heart defect/s. We are warriors, survivors, and storytellers who provide hope and support to ailing CHD-stricken Filipino families through empowerment, education, and counsel.