Zane Alexander Gardner

 November 12, 1998 -- February 11, 2002

From Lynette Gardner:

I needed to write to you all and tell you about our boy Zane. Todd and I are home now and unfortunately are minus our dear and precious Zane. His decompression surgery seemed to go well but somehow he would not wake up after we got back to the floor. It was then surmised that pressure had built up on his brain and that this was causing him to not come back to us.  Several procedures were done to try and stop this pressure but to no avail.  We found out this morning that there was no blood flow to the brain and that our Zane was truly gone. It is hard to believe that he is not here and it was hard to come home where everything we see reminds us of what we don't have. Our hearts are broken. We have lost our precious boy who we loved so very much and I do not know how we can go on. You all have been the best group of people who have become like family to us and I feel that I have just lost something to tie us all together. May I take the time now to thank all of you who in so many ways have supported us and encouraged us every step along the way with my Zane. I got one of my wishes though and that was to see Zane walk, I just didn't know that soon he would be gone. I love you all with all of my heart and I hope that I can remain a part of this group because my heart will always be with you and your children. I always looked forward everyday and night to checking my email to see how everyone was doing. I pray for you all and for your children. Treasure them each and every day and all the accomplishments big or small along the way.

Lynette Gardner, mom to Zane (Vandy#18, 3 years old) and Wyatt, 5 years old
and wife to Todd

From Dr. Bruner:

Last night, when I read of Zane's death, I sat at my computer and wept. I cried for sadness, I cried for loneliness, and I wept for the loss of a special friend and colleague who has contributed so much to the development of new treatments for unborn babies with birth defects.

When Zane underwent his surgery, only 17 other babies had gone through such an experience, and only twelve had been delivered. Of those, just one was a year old. Although all of us during that time, including the Gardners, talked at length about the theoretical risks and potential benefits of intrauterine surgery, the plain fact was that we just didn't know what would happen if the procedure was done. We didn't know what would result from our invasion of Zane's warm, protected fluid home within Lynette's encircling abdomen. Yet, despite the uncertainties, despite the risks, Todd and Lynette, speaking for Zane, never faltered in their articulate insistence that this was the kind of caring, giving life that Zane would choose to lead. At a critical moment in the evolution of this innovative and controversial new treatment, they never wavered in their desire, on behalf of Zane, to contribute to this important research. Reflecting back on the passionate discussions we shared, it's no surprise at all that Zane was named for Dr. Richard Zaner, Stahlman Chair of Clinical Ethics, who contributed so wisely to the decisions we made.

The day that Zane died, the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development announced federal funding of a multi-million dollar, multi-year, multi-institutional study to document, once and for all, the benefits of in utero repair of spina bifida. If successful, it will be the only such trial ever to demonstrate such improvement. Much of this support is possible only because of the selfless participation of Zane and his family during those uncertain and sometimes terrifying early days of the project.

It was one of the greatest honors of my life to be the first other human to "meet" Zane, to touch him, to speak with him. In the years since, Zane has often touched me, and many others, by his monumental contributions to improving the lives of children. Who can possibly foresee the endless stream of babies who will be born stronger and healthier as a result of Zane's love? In the years to come, people may forget Vanderbilt, or Bruner, or others who played a role in this great drama which has been unfolding around us, but we will not forget Zane Alexander Gardner, who gave so much to help so many.

Goodbye, Zane. We love you.

Dr. B

Memorial contributions can be made to:


Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine

B-1100 Medical Center North

Nashville, TN  37232-2519




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