At a tender 4 years old, Zachary Portnoy was brought to St. Mary’s by his parents Kevin and Robin who were slowly becoming discouraged that their child would never be the same little boy they knew. Zachy was admitted to St. Mary’s following surgery to remove a brain tumor and suffered two strokes thereafter, leaving him in a coma. Zachy’s surgeons were wary of his recovery and Kevin and Robin didn’t know what the future held for them. In this time of despair when hope was diminishing, a painful void deepened the hearts of Kevin and Robin; a void that was filled when they found St. Mary’s Hospital.
After being transferred to St. Mary’s, Zachy was constantly looked after by a trained staff of medical and healthcare professionals showering him with compassion and care. They spent each aching hour by Zachy’s side, along with the Portnoy family, patiently waiting for the moment he would open his eyes and extend his tiny arms for cozy hug, something little Zachy always loved. Their efforts were rewarded only a few months later.
One early Wednesday morning, a miracle occurred. Zachy awoke from his coma and called out “mama.” Robin and Kevin tightly embraced their son and cried softly into each other’s arms.
Over the next five months little Zachy underwent intensive rehabilitation to re-learn how to walk and talk and perform every day activities that are all too often taken for granted. When Zachy was discharged, his St. Mary’s “family” of nurses and therapist continued to care for him at home. Through their efforts, Zachy was able to become part of his family again. With continued home care services, Zachy went on to enjoy a happy life full of indomitable spirit, easing his way through childhood. St. Mary’s helped the Portnoy family find fulfillment and enjoy a few more memories with their little Zachy.
“From the moment we arrived at St. Mary’s, our family was offered hope,” remarked Robin. “We were surrounded with only positive thoughts and were told that when it came to children, anything was possible. They embraced our family and gave us hope when no one else would. We knew Zachy was in the right place, and St. Mary’s proved us right,” said Robin.
Zachy’s life-limiting condition eventually worsened and he succumbed to his condition in February 2007. However, his memory is forever alive and strong in the hearts of all those he touched. Zachy’s family is grateful for the quality of life St. Mary’s helped to provide to this extraordinary child.
In a generous act of giving back and to honor the memory of young Zachy, the Portnoys formed a team called, “Zachy’s Dolphins,” and rallied the Great Neck community, including businesses, social groups, schools, and other community members, to support children with special healthcare needs at the hospital’s Annual Walk for St. Mary’s Kids and Family Fun Day. Last year, the Portnoy’s team was over 400 members strong and raised more than $60,000 from the community to support the programs and services at St. Mary’s.
Zachy’s parents are grateful to St. Mary’s for “giving a few more years of happiness” with their little boy.