The Sanders family posing standing by a pond

Toys Making a Difference at Children’s Hospitals

Josh Sanders Shares Zakariah’s Story Beating Gastroschisis

“I am incredibly grateful to the Children’s Hospital at St. Francis. They were very good to me and my family. Any questions, any concerns – they break it down and make it easy to understand all the processes and steps that will be taken. They will do everything within their power. Obviously, the stay isn’t ideal, but they make it special. It’s not something I want everyone to experience, but to understand it.”

So says Josh Sanders, about the Children’s Hospital at St. Francis, Tulsa, Okla. Josh’s son, Zakariah, was born there and was there for 93 days.

Zakariah’s story

Before Zakariah was born, Josh and Janae Sanders knew their son was going to have ‘some kind of gastro issue. They knew what to expect about their son’s Zakariah in the hospital

But things took a turn. On September 27, 2014, when Janae’s water broke at 31 weeks, she was rushed to the hospital for an emergency C section. That’s when the doctor realized it was worse than they first thought. Zakariah, was born on September 28, 2014, at 12:18 a.m., weighing in at three pounds, four ounces. He had gastroschisis, a condition in which the abdominal wall does not fully form and the intestines grow outside of the baby’s body.

At eight days old, Zakariah had his first surgery. Things went well. However, a few weeks later, something still wasn’t right, which meant a second surgery within his first two months of life. The intestine went in wrong, so it had to be fixed. So, during the first few weeks of Zakariah’s new life, he was on a ventilator, feeding tube, and IVs, as well as having several blood transfusions.

And for 93 days, the Sanders’ family – mom, dad, daughter and son – spent every day in the hospital with their baby. “It was pretty rough. We were coming and going to and from the hospital multiple times a day. The older children had to go to school, and after school, we all went to the hospital and started homework and spend the day with our new baby boy. For three months, the hospital was our home,” says Josh, while adding they made the best of the situation.

For Halloween, they dressed up in costumes. Zakariah was a little doctor. Zakariah in a Halloween costumeFor Thanksgiving, they had their turkey dinner in the hospital cafeteria. And for Christmas, Josh brought a tree and gifts up to the room.

During Zakariah’s hospital stay, Josh’s Car-Mart team was incredibly helpful and supportive. They brought toys to Zakariah.

“There was a lot of understanding from Car-Mart,” Josh recalls. “Associates contributed cash as it gets expensive to go back and forth. Every little bit helped at that point.”

“Plus, everyone at the hospital was involved,” adds Josh. “Even nurses not assigned to Zakariah checked on him every day. They really care.”

And now at seven years old, Zakariah is doing great!

Zakariah on a tractor
Josh’s son, Zakariah

He’s enjoying life with mom and dad, his brother and two sisters.

Delighted for Car-Mart’s Toy Drive

“I know from first-hand experience the toys make a difference for the kids at the hospital. It means quite a bit,” says Josh.

“So, if you can give one gift, that helps tremendously.”

“And I understand because I was there. Being off work and not knowing what you’re going to do for the kids for the holidays – that’s tough,” Josh concludes. “There’s a lot of good that comes from the toy drive.”

Josh and Car-Mart Associates delivering toys to the Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, OK
Josh and Car-Mart Associates delivering toys to the Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, OK

Want to help kids like Zakariah?

Bring a toy (or two or three) to your local America’s Car-Mart.

We’ll take it from there. In December, our Car-Mart associates will deliver the toys to the kids at 25 children’s hospitals in our 12-state area. Learn more about our Holiday Toy Drive.

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