Medford, Ore. – Zachary Parham has spent his past two birthdays in the hospital battling leukemia.
Zachary was 15 years old when he was diagnosed with one of the most aggressive forms of leukemia. Amazingly, within the first month of chemotherapy, he was in remission. But, earlier this year things took a turn.
“I think it was because my liver was so bad, they kind of just saw that all these different things were happening, and they were like okay these are symptoms of e-coli and we need to pick a place to send him because obviously they weren’t prepared for it here,” he said.
“We knew Zachary was at risk for getting the e-coli bacteria and affecting his body, and the first week he was very very very sick. It was really difficult to see him go through that, especially after the leukemia diagnosis,” his mom, Dayna Sandberg said.
Zachary was transferred to Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto in March, after doctors at Rogue Regional Medical Center realized there was something attacking his organs.
Over a month and a half, Zachary slowly improved and his family hoped to bring him back to the rogue valley to continue physical therapy. But, they say their insurance company wouldn’t cover the costs to bring him home.
“Our insurance wanted us to take a commercial flight but we were like we can’t really take a commercial flight because the doctors don’t want me to because of all the risks involved, like I could get sick, how am I going to get to the bathroom, how will I get moved around if I need to?” he said.
Dayna exhausted all efforts to get insurance to pay for medical flight home. She says at every turn, the answer was still no.
“He’s a child, and for someone like Zachary who has already been through so much in his young adult life, I didn’t think it was fair for them to keep him down there,” she said.
But, that’s when Dayna got an idea.
“I decided that I wanted to reach out to senator Jeff Merkley’s office to see what they could do to help us, I figured it was worth a try,” she said.
“When these things happen, people should call us, and we work so hard to try to get fair and appropriate treatment. We don’t always succeed, but sometimes it can make a difference for a senator’s office to weigh in,” Senator Jeff Merkley said.
In this case, it did and Zachary got the medical flight he needed. Dayna hasn’t been able to thank the senator yet, but she knows exactly what she would say if she could.
“I would say that his staff is absolutely top notch, they went above and beyond for our family, and we’re super grateful. So thank you senator,” she said.
Zachary is hoping to head back to normal life soon, so he can be back home with his two cats – Dobby and Hermionie.
If you want to donate to Zachary’s fundraising campaign you can go to this https://helpinghandsawo.org/projects/help-zachary-defeat-leukemia-get-zachary-home/ for more information.
Devin Gooden graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a Master’s degree in Sports Journalism.
She has spent most of her life in Atlanta, Georgia and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia in Business Management.
When she’s not reporting, Devin practices yoga, reads thriller novels and loudly cheers for her beloved Georgia Bulldawgs.