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As a parent, few things are as scary as being away from your child when they’re in the hospital.

In these situations, it’s natural to want to be as close to your child’s side as possible, to be with them through the ups and the downs, and to watch over them as they sleep.

Thanks to the generous donations from Mercury customers, Starship has been able to make this possible for families across the country, providing them with the facilities they need to stay together. Just take the story of Gafa and her son Zachariah as an example.

In April of 2019, Gafatasi (Gafa) and her family were busy preparing for the celebration of her father’s 70th birthday when tragedy struck. Later that evening, a family friend alerted Gafa and her sister to a horrific car crash near his house; the car was one he knew they would recognise…

Not too far away, Gafa’s then 4-year-old son, Zachariah, had been involved in a serious road accident that claimed the lives of his uncle and 12-year-old cousin. Fearing for her son’s safety, Gafa rushed to the crash-site whilst emergency services searched for survivors.

“I had no idea where he was, or even if he was still alive,” Gafa recalls.

Against all odds, little Zachariah and his four-year-old cousin Zion were pulled from the wreck alive, but not without harm. Both boys had suffered critical brain injuries and required immediate specialist attention, which only Starship could provide. Though critically injured, young Zion was stable enough to be rushed up to Auckland in the Starship National Air Ambulance. Zachariah however, had to undergo emergency brain surgery before being flown up himself a couple of days later.




In a terrifying case of touch and go, doctors informed Gafatasi and her husband that there was a very real possibility that due to the severity of his injuries, Zachariah may potentially end up brain dead.

Zachariah spent five long months battling his injuries, including two months in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and the Neurology ward. Gafa and her husband were able to stay at Zachariah’s side while he recovered in the Neurology ward. This was all thanks to the fold-down beds Mercury customers like you contributed to.

“It was really important to be there because when a kid is sick, all they want are their parents,” remarks Gafa. “We really appreciated everything that Starship offered. They just went above and beyond. It was really nice to be able to just focus on Zachariah.”

Reflecting back on their extended stay at Starship, Gafa recalls how comforting the staff and facilities were during this difficult ordeal. “The care for the kids was just amazing. It also meant a lot to us just to be able to be there for them. Starship cared about us as a family, and our extended family… even down to the finer details, like being provided toothpaste and toothbrushes. It was amazing. To be able to have a nice comfortable bed, and not sleep on a chair, just gave you more peace; peace of mind that you were able to sleep next to your child. You could get a proper sleep, which is important because as a parent, you have to look after yourself in order to look after them.”

After five long months recovering from his injuries in Starship and the Wilson Centre, Zachariah was stable enough to leave Auckland and return home to Christchurch. Thanks to the care and treatment he received, just one year later he was back walking and talking like his old self. Now, at age 7, little Zachariah is as fit and healthy as ever. An upbeat chilled-out kid, Zachariah loves nothing more than playing with his toys with his siblings and cousins.

On behalf of Gafa, Zachariah, and thousands of other Kiwi families, we want to thank wonderful customers like you for your generous donations to Starship. Together, by giving just a little each month, we can help keep families together during even the scariest times.


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The information provided in this article is of a general nature and not intended to be a substitute for personalised, professional advice. Mercury recommends that you always seek appropriate advice from a qualified professional to suit your individual circumstances. Links to external, non-Mercury websites are provided as a reference only, and do not imply a partnership or endorsement of their content.