Zachary Heath has no trouble making friends. His outgoing personality makes it easy, even in a hospital setting. Diagnosed with several chronic conditions at a young age, Zachary's frequent trips to Mayo Clinic and Blank Children's Hospital allow him to meet friends from all across the country.
"He's a bit of a medical mystery," said Kristie, Zachary's mom. "As soon as our doctors get one issue managed, another one pops up."
When Zachary wasn't gaining weight, doctors began to investigate further. From there, things quickly became more concerning, as pancreatic insufficiency, cyclic vomiting and asthma were discovered. Doctors also ran tests for cystic fibrosis. In June 2015, Zachary had a fecal transplant, and early this year, a bad case of vomiting kept him at Blank Children's for three days. Winter can be a scary season for Zachary, too, as the risk of upper respiratory infections and pneumonia rise. Altogether, Zachary takes roughly 15 medications to help him manage these conditions.
"You go numb in some ways because answers are hard to come by," said Kristie. "Luckily, we have a great care team."
In between his trips to Mayo and Blank Children's, you can find Zachary staying busy with Legos and video games. And of course, playing with his friends. Kristie and her sons will make their next trip to Mayo this upcoming March.
"Life can be stressful, but we manage," said Kristie. "We don't take anything for granted. You just have to roll with it, and do the best you can."