About Braveheart Zak

Zak was born on 12th April 1996 and shortly afterwards was diagnosed as having being born with a complicated congenital heart condition (Pulmonary Atresia with a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD or hole in the heart) and Major Aorta-pulmonary Collateral Arteries (MACPAs). After going through two major heart operations in his first year of life and open heart surgery to insert a pulmonary conduit just before his second birthday, Zak continued to receive numerous heart procedures throughout the years with the aim of making his arteries wide enough in order to eventually close his hole to enable him to have a relatively good quality of life.

Zak 1

Surprisingly, Zak had a fairly good quality of life. Although he never had full lung capacity, he never let it hold him back. He knew his limitations; if he needed to rest he rested in order to go back to finishing off what he was doing. When he was 6 or 7 years old he joined his first (and only) football team. Although he couldn’t play a full game, he was overjoyed at getting on that pitch for five minutes. As he got older Zak began to get frustrated at not being able to keep up with everyone else physically, but still he tried. Although he knew he would never be able to play for his beloved team, Glasgow Rangers, he became an avid supporter. In fact, whilst in hospital, Zak’s favourite place was the playroom, not to play with the toys, but so he could sit and look out onto Ibrox Stadium.

Zak 20

Determined that he wanted to participate in some kind of sport, Zak joined the Burakudo Shotokan Karate club. Zak proudly achieved his red, orange and yellow belts and entered many karate competitions. Although Zak didn’t participate in kumite (sparring) he put all his time and energy into mastering the different kata (punches and kicking movements). Zak’s hard work eventually paid off when he proudly came third at one of the championship tournaments.

Zak 5

Zak’s other true love in life was his cars (especially modified ones) in which he hoped to one day be a mechanic and manage his own business. Zak was a true character, he was caring and funny in which he loved to do impressions of those he met and characters from his favourite tv programmes, especially Naveed from Still Game and Gary Tank Commander. Zak also loved his holidays in which he was fortunate enough to go on many family holidays abroad with his favourite place being Australia.

Braveheart Zak in Australia

In December 2010, Zak went in to hospital for a catheterization procedure to determine if his heart was now strong enough to cope with the hole being closed and for his pulmonary conduit to be replaced.  After consultation with the rest of the cardiac team it was decided that Zak should go on the waiting list to have his conduit replaced and for his hole to be closed.

Braveheart Zak in hospital

Zak underwent open heart surgery on the 9th March 2011. Unfortunately, Zak encountered serious complications in which he bravely battled for three long devastating weeks.  Sadly, on 30th March 2011, Zak tragically passed away, two weeks before his 15th birthday.  His funny and caring personality has left a gaping hole in the lives of all those he touched.

It is hoped that the work of the Foundation not only fulfils a wish of Zak’s but helps keep his memory alive.


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