Zoe Rabago received a corneal transplant when she was only 6 weeks old. The touching story of the loss of her donor, Aolani Lopez, and the connection Zoe has with Aolani’s Mother, Rosalba Gonzalez, was the centerpiece of Eye Donation Month 2020. Here, Zoe’s Mother, Nia Maldonado, catches us up on Zoe’s life, interests, and continued growth following her corneal transplant.
The Life of Zoe
I feel so honored to be continuously asked about my daughter Zoe. She is my whole world, so getting to share her growth and milestones with people like you, who are just as proud of her as I am, is the best feeling.
She is doing so great! In school she is soaring; her favorite subject is reading, but math is a close second. She took a lot of pride in the fact that she got chosen for lunch box monitor. Her exact words were “Mom, now none of the kids will go hungry because I make sure they take their lunch boxes home!”
She is so helpful in any classroom that will let her help, and I love that about her. Zoe has taken piano lessons, joined a softball team, and did a season of cheerleading! I think she is trying an assortment of things until she finds what she really loves. Right now, she is enrolled in a sign language class—and I have never seen her as excited as she is when she learns something new there!
We were invited to attend the EBAA Annual Meeting in Dallas last summer because Zoe was accepting the Crystal Cornea Award. That was the peak of the year for her. She was so excited and proud to be given it. I feel like it meant so much to her because now she is old enough to really understand the backstory of her cornea transplant. Her Dad and I sat her down and really talked about it with her and it seemed to really have an impact. My name (Nia) actually means purpose, and I try to teach Zoe that she is my purpose. I want her to know that there is significant meaning behind her story, and she has a unique opportunity to spread awareness about eye donation and the importance of registering as an eye, organ, and tissue donor.
In the future, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if she decided to be a spokesperson for eye disease awareness or corneal transplants, because she loves to tell people about her journey and growth, and it makes me excited for her.
Give the gift of sight to an individual like Zoe; register as a donor hero!