White House Heritage junior Zach Hay is beginning to recover after suffering a series of seizures and strokes at his home on Tuesday, March 31.

Hay’s sister, Brianna, found Zach seizing and unresponsive on a bed and immediately called 911. Zach was rushed to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital where doctors discovered blood clots in his brain and neck.

He underwent emergency surgery and has been receiving blood thinners to reduce the clots. Doctors also found a hole in his heart and plan to do further testing, though it is unclear what exactly caused the incident.

As of Friday afternoon, Zach is showing signs of improvement but remains in the ICU, according to his mother. He has not been able to eat solid food, but he can respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to questions.

 “It’s been very difficult, especially the first day,” Kelly Hay said. “We didn’t know what was going on. They were running multiple tests. He was having seizures every two or three minutes before the surgery.”

Zach began physical therapy on Thursday and was able to speak at least one full sentence. However, he still does not have any mobility on the right side of his body.

Outside of struggling with chronic asthma, Hay was seemingly healthy before the incident. He is a forward for the Heritage boys basketball team and ran five miles Monday night. The 17-year-old was using his PlayStation in the family’s upstairs bonus room minutes before his seizures began on Tuesday afternoon. 

Hay grew up in White House but spent his first two years of high school at Blackman before returning to the area last August. He played sparingly for the Patriots this season after taking a few years off from basketball.

“I don’t know what the future holds for Zach,” Heritage coach Carl Miller said. “He would have gotten some playing time next year. He played a lot of junior varsity this year to get back up to speed.

“He’s a great kid, straight-A student and very well-liked and respected by his teachers and his peers.”

The coronavirus pandemic has further complicated the situation as Vanderbilt is limiting patients to one visitor at a time. Steven Hay, Zach’s father, has been with his son in the hospital all week. He will soon switch places with Kelly to get back to his job at FedEx.

Zach is expected to stay in the hospital for several more days while doctors continue to monitor the swelling in his brain. When his condition improves, he will be transferred to a rehab center for 2-4 weeks. Doctors told the family that a full recovery could take a year or longer. 

Miller has called on the Heritage community and anyone interested in helping to mail donations and letters directly to the Hay family address (2981 Indian Ridge Blvd, White House, TN 37188).

“I went back and forth on what to do,” he said. “I decided that the best thing would be for people to put things in the mail. The family just needs help right now.”

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