Vivian, La (KMSS) — Ask Sharon Washington the day that her life changed, and she can tell you without a doubt; September 4, 2005. That was the night that a fire killed her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend, and severely burned her grandson Zep Washington.
Zep was flown to LSU Hospital that evening, with burns covering much of his body and his airway severely damaged. Zep spent months in the Pediatric ICU at LSU, not able to speak at all. Doctors and nurses used eye blinking, and then smiles to communicate with the 4 year old.
When Zep was able to leave his room, nurses wheeled him in a wagon all around the hospital, ending up in the playroom a lot of the time.
Zep was able to leave the hospital eventually, but had to come back a lot to continue work on his airway, trying to find a way for him to be able to talk.
After 6 years, Dr. Anil Gungor was able to restore Zep's voice. His first words; I love you to his grandmother Sharon. Now, Zep is a talker, telling everybody about his love of pets and his excitement to get to thank the people who saved his life at LSU Health Sciences Foundation's "An Evening for Heroes" this Thursday at the Shreveport Convention Center.
The event will honor more than 80 first responders and medical professionals who each played a part in the storybook endings for 11-year-old Zep Washington and 34-year-old Kathy Heitz. The heroes will include physicians, nurses and other caregivers from LSU Health Shreveport. Police officers from Vivian and Caddo Parish and flight crews from Life Air Rescue are also among the honorees. This year’s event, chaired by Linda and Richard Biernacki, will include special recognition of our military heroes.
In 2005, Zep was able to survive severe burns from a house fire, but his airway was badly damaged and scarred. A tracheotomy tube kept him alive, but unable to talk until last year, when an amazing medical procedure gave him back his voice.
The everyday heroes will all receive medallions commemorating their work. Willis-Knighton Health System is the presenting sponsor for the event, which is open to the public. JP Morgan Chase is also a major sponsor. A sold-out crowd of more than 800 is expected.
When: Thursday, May 2; Reception 6 pm, Dinner 7 pm
Where: Shreveport Convention Center
Tickets: $150 per person; Sponsorships from $2,000
For more information: Visit www.lsuhsfoundation.org, or call 318.861.0855