Hope & Healing: The UF Health Blog

Not all superheroes wear capes

Written By: Kathleen Giery

“Zach was the one that if you were on the side of the road, and you looked like you needed help, he would stop,” said his mother, Michelle Trevellick, R.N., a case manager for the Healthy Start Nurse-Family Partnership at UF Health Jacksonville.

Zach Rabon was the type of man who walked into a room and would light it up. He was compassionate and kind, and he was very close to his mother. After losing his father to cancer in 2005, he would talk to his mom nearly every day. Some calls would just be to tell her that he loved her.

The 29-year-old father of two shared custody of his children with his ex-wife. Rabon was the kind of dad that would get on the monkey bars with his kids or put a rag mop on top of his head and pretend to be “Kyle the Surfer.” All of his children’s friends would gravitate toward him. He was “that dad.”

On the nights the children weren’t with him, he had a standing Facetime chat with them at 7:30 p.m. They talked about their days, and he never missed the call.

On the night of Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 7:30 p.m. came and went without a call from Rabon. By 8 p.m., there still was no call. Red flags went up at home, and his ex-wife started calling around to find him.

Using the tracking software in his cell phone, the family was led to Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville. Rabon had been in an accident — struck by a car while riding his motorcycle home.

In spite of wearing a helmet, he suffered tremendous injuries. By Friday morning, the trauma physicians began performing brain death testing.

“He was a fighter, and he tried to fight,” Trevellick said. “How do I describe how strong he was? Like Superman and the Hulk. I used to tell him he was from another planet because no one was that strong.”

Rabon’s injuries were too severe. This was a fight he could not win, but the superhero in him came through.

“It was God’s will that he saved others,” his mother said.

Through Rabon’s gift of organ donation, he was able to save the lives of three others, all of whom were in their thirties. Two of these individuals each received a kidney from him, and the third received his liver.

“When they had him on life support, and they said that he was not going to make it, once I got past my initial shock, I said that I knew he wanted to be an organ donor,” Trevellick said.

Not only had Rabon registered to be an organ donor, but he put himself on the registry three times.

His children, a 4-year old daughter and 6-year-old son, along with stepchildren ages 9 and 11, know that he was a donor and that after his accident, he was able to save other people’s lives.

Approximately 60 percent of the organ donors in northern Florida each year have designated their decision to donate by enrolling on Florida’s donor registry. Please visit www.DonateLifeFlorida.org to document your wishes like Zach Rabon did.

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