A year after transplant, boy aims for games

Stonington — Zachary Abbett turned 12 in January. His kidney turned a year old last Thursday. Well actually, it's 25, according to Tia Dewick. She should know. She had it first.

She visited it again Saturday night when the Stonington Community Center hosted a combination celebration and fund raiser for Zachary and his family.

The Abbetts wanted to say thank you to the community that helped them when Zachary's condition was most serious.

And now they need help so that Zachary can play games.

“When Zach was in the hospital, I had to drive to Hartford four times a week,” Laura Abbett said. “Without the help of the people in the community, I wouldn't have had the gas to get to there sometimes.”

To get an idea of how well Zachary is doing a year after, consider that the next place the Abbett's hope to get to is Disney World, in June. There, Zachary wants to swim and bowl with Transplant Team Connecticut in the National Transplant Games, in which recipients of life-saving transplants take part in 37 events and more than a dozen sports.

The problem, Laura Abbett said, is that families have to pay their own way. The National Kidney Foundation of Connecticut provides collectibles and candy for fund raisers, such as Saturday's, to help families defray the cost of lodging. The A&P Food Mart where Laura works part time donated hotdogs, pizza, soda and chips. The profits from those sales went toward the family's airfare.

Being healthy enough to go to Florida and compete might be the best testament to the success of Zachary's treatment.

“I play basketball, roller hockey and street hockey,” said Zachary, who also spends a lot of time peppering his best friends with witty jabs. “And I eat breakfast without puking. So that's good.”

His mom looks at some of his other activities to gauge her son's progress.

“He made the honor roll for the first time, this quarter, she said. Not only that, but for the first time, he was student of the month. It's because he's healthy. And that's because a lot of people helped us.”

The Abbett's and DeWick wanted the party to serve one more purpose. They all said they want people to become organ donors.

“You shouldn't wait until you are the one who needs it,” said Alan Abbett.

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