Family learns community has plenty of heart

By Matt Stone

There are times when people rally around a cause, showing that mankind does, after all, have a heart.

Theresa Zamora, 40, knows this better than almost anyone.

Born with a hole in her right and left ventricles, Zamora is at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, waiting for a new heart. Until now, despite two life-saving operations, she has never been in such need of medical care.

As a child, Zamora had an initial surgery to insert a heart valve. Later, at 26, she underwent another operation to repair the valve.

Now, 14 years later, after she began to show signs of fatigue, doctors decided Zamora would be in need of the ultimate treatment: a new heart.

The decision has not been an easy one, say friends, leaving the family in a financial and emotional squeeze. Theresa’s children, Tommy, Timmy and Ania, who are 12, 11, and 7 respectively, have only seen her once since her operation in June.

“They talk to her on the phone almost every night,” said Suzanne Willson, Theresa’s younger sister. “ She didn’t want them to see her until she was stronger.”

Her husband Tom has been either flying or driving out to see her almost every weekend, leaving their kids behind as well as the ever-growing trip expenses. Recently—and without much urging—members of the community have come forward to support the Zamoras, lending help in many different ways. Just recently at a south Tempe garage sale, friends of the family raised more than $5,000.

At the sale, held at the home of Jean and Mark Gordon, the neighbors showed their commitment to ensuring that no more bad luck befalls the Zamoras.

Theresa and Tom both are known for their community involvement: she was last year’s co-president of the Kyrene Middle School PTO, he has been active in the Kyrene Corridor baseball and football system.

There is more kindness to come, with friends and neighbors planning another fund-raiser in Theresa’s behalf. The event, a golf tournament at the Ahwatukee Lakes Golf Club on Saturday, Sept. 17, will donate all proceeds to the family. The event begins at 7 a.m. and costs $85 per person, including lunch.

On tap are a silent auction and other activities, as well as door prizes. The “giving” attitude evidenced by the community for this situation has left a strong impression with relatives.

“I’m completely amazed,” said Willson.  “I can’t believe how much community support she’s getting. [It’s] absolutely amazing, uplifting.”

People who have spearheaded the campaign to help the Zamoras would most likely tell you they do it because of how great a person Theresa is.

“Very giving, caring, individual. That’s kind of my reason for getting involved,” said friend and neighbor Jay Spradling.

An account (4370436928) has been established at Bank of America in Theresa’s name for anyone wishing to make a contribution.

As the community does its best to help Theresa and her family in the financial fight, things are also looking up for her health.

As the situation stands currently, Theresa is next on the donor list for a heart, barring it being incompatible with her body.

With a little luck, the care of a highly regarded medical staff and continuing support from the neighborhood, Theresa will continue getting stronger and make a full recovery.