Zachary Sutterfield's Recovery

I’ll never forget when I got the phone call.  It was June 20 at 5:12am.  It was my sister-in-law, DJ.  “Listen carefully,” she said.  I remember her saying something about a fire and that Zach’s missing.  “Don’t worry,” I said.  “He probably ran out in a rush, leaving his phone behind, and is wandering around somewhere, not even realizing you know about the fire and are worried.  Trust me, he’s fine.”

He wasn’t.

 Zach was in the apartment directly across from where the fire supposedly started (to date, no official report has been released about the fire and its cause. 

Zach was hurt.  Seriously hurt.   He has severe head trauma (which has resulted in two neurosurgeons – and more to come) and burns over 70% of his body.

To date, Zach has spent over 80 days in the Brooks Army Medical Center's (BAMC) Intensive Care Unit near Fort Sam Houston, Texas.  He will be there at least another 150 days, if all goes well.  His injuries are severe.  The long-term effects of the head trauma sustained are still unknown.  This is only the beginning.

Life as my brother and his family have known it will never be the same. With each day, there seems to be a new sense of “normal.”  Hearing “your son is the victim of a major apartment fire and has sustained severe injuries” is a phrase no one wants to hear.  We can’t imagine the shock, the pain.  They felt it.  Then they recovered.  “OK.  We can handle this.”  A new ‘normal’ evolves. 

 Next it’s the news about the head injury . . . “OK.  We can handle this.”  A new ‘normal’ evolves. 

 Next, it’s the news about the depth of the burns . . . “OK.  We can handle this.”  A new ‘normal’ evolves. 

 Next, it’s the news about the surgeries . . . skin grafting, after skin grafting, after skin grafting (18 major surgeries to date, no knowing how many more are to come).  “OK.  We can handle this.”  A new ‘normal’ evolves. 

With every piece of news, a new ‘normal’ evolves.  His parents cope, deal, and accept.  They stay strong.  They must – for Zach’s sake.

 The future of Zach’s family is beyond uncertain.  DJ and Karl work in San Angelo, Texas, which is about a 4-hour drive from Fort Sam, Houston.  They can’t return to work; not while Zach’s future is uncertain.  As of today, day 80, Zach is still in BAMC's burn unit.   Doctors remind his parents daily that, although they may see snippets of progress (there are moments between medication that Zach seems more lucid than others; he’s even been able to tall his parents that he loves them!) doctors continue to remind Karl and DJ that there is still only a 50/50 chance of survival for Zach.  His future is still not much better than the flip of a coin.  They hope.  They pray.  Then know – he will beat this.  He has to.

Zach’s future is unknown.  We’re not sure, once he makes it out of the Burn Unit ICU and deals with recovery what that means.   What will his needs be to adapt to his new “normal?”  Will he need assistance?  We don’t know yet, but we know he will need help.

I am asking for help.  Lots of help.  Help for Zach’s family and help for Zach’s future.  Here’s is what I think they will need (although I’m sure I’m missing several things that quickly add up!)

·         Cost of living income – DJ and Karl’s stay at Fort Sam Houston is indefinite.  As such, they will likely lose one income and possibly both.  I’m hoping to raise funds to help with this loss.

·         Future medical – Since we don’t know how long he will need medical assistance, this amount is unknown and potentially unending.

·         Service Dog – Zach has a dog he loves dearly.  The family is hoping they can have him trained to become a service dog for Zach.  This training is not only time consuming, but also costly.

·         Lifestyle adaptability – Since the extent of his injuries remain unknown, it’s hard to discern what his new needs will be.  Once Zach recovers, his family will likely need to have his living quarters adapted to fit his “new normal.” This will hopefully include voice activated electronics (light switches, etc.) so he can more easily navigate through his living quarters.

·         Tuition Assistance -  Zachary had moved away from home just two weeks prior to the accident.  He was transferring from San Angelo University to Texas University, about 4 hours from home.  Due to the accident, Zach has obviously had to delay his college plans.  I want to ensure that, when he is ready, he will have the means to pursue his dreams.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this and for your support,

Tanya Byrd

Proud Aunt of Zachary Sutterfield
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Tanya Byrd
Raised $5,350 from 60 donations
Folsom, CA
Karl Sutterfield
Karl Sutterfield
Team member
Raised $750 from 10 donations

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