Source: CNN – Her death came after a liver became available Thursday afternoon, and her transplant team at the Cleveland Clinic hustled to prepare her for surgery, Powers said.
The news of the available liver buoyed Erika’s spirits and spread excitement among her surgical team and family after waiting more than a year for this moment, he said. Before going into surgery, he said, Erika was able to spend time with the couple’s 5-year-old daughter, Loïe.
“Late yesterday the stars briefly aligned while we were at the hospital for an unrelated medical procedure and an organ miraculously became available right then for transplant. We were so excited and rushed our daughter in to spend a half hour with Erika,” the family said in a statement. “She then quickly went into the OR, but deep into the surgery, her body couldn’t handle some of the trauma apparently. She died in surgery.
“While our family is devastated by the loss of our beautiful wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend, we do want to express our deepest gratitude to all of those who have supported Erika and our family through these very difficult weeks, months and years. Through her perseverance in life, Erika embodied hope and set an example of strength.”
‘Erika’s Army’ inspired her
In a phone conversation, her husband fought back tears.
“It’s beyond devastating,” Powers said. “She loved Loïe more than anything, she fought desperately to be with her. It’s just excruciating that she didn’t get to spend a day or weeks or years healthy with Loïe.”
He said the family was “forever grateful” for the outpouring of love Erika received — that she drew inspiration from “Erika’s Army,” the social media warriors who took up her cause and spread her story far and wide. She maintained her sense of humor and zeal for life to the end.
“She was so appreciative of what happened the past week,” Powers said.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page
for her funeral and other expenses. They have asked for privacy during this time to grieve.
A cancer survivor, Erika Zak said liver disease was excruciating: “Liver failure is the worst thing ever.”
In her final conversation with CNN, Erika described why she was speaking up: “It just feels like everything is a battle, and it shouldn’t be that way. It sucks because most people don’t know that they can fight back.”
“There’s more that I want to see; more life I want to live,” she said. Of death, she said, “I’m more scared of what I leave behind.”
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