Stillwater boy with rare aging disease dies

Wednesday, January 25th 2006, 6:09 am
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- A Stillwater boy who was one of an estimated seven people in the nation with a rare aging disease died at age 3.

Zachary Moore died Monday night at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa of respiratory complications, his father, Keith Moore, said Tuesday.

"The main thing that everyone needs to know is it's truly not a day to be sad, even though it's tough and we'll miss him," he said. "He's in heaven now.

"He's completed his mission."

Zachary was diagnosed with progeria, a disease characterized by advanced aging in children. Progeria affects one baby out of about 4 million to 8 million, according to the Progeria Research Foundation. Children with progeria usually die from cardiovascular disease at an average age of 13.

Services were pending Tuesday afternoon.

"He seemed to have done a lot in his 3 years," said Richard Poe, minister of the Stillwater Church of Christ, where Zachary's family is well-known.

"He seemed to have an impact on people, an influence."

Nearly a year ago, Zachary was given a service dog, a golden retriever named Hobbs, by an Arkansas organization.

"He gives Zachary more confidence," Zachary's mother, Molly, said at the time. "In public, because Zachary looks different, kids often stare, but with Hobbs, they would come up to him and talk about his dog. There was common ground."

Kate Morgan, executive director of Southwest Service Dogs, remembers how hesitant she was when Zach's mother called to request a service dog for her son.

Most children, especially those younger than 5, can't have service dogs because the animals aren't always gentle.

"But his mother talked me into it," she said. "She could be very persuasive when it came to Zachary."

Zachary was mischievous and smart, Morgan said. And part of that bright personality came from his parents, brother and three sisters, Morgan said.

"They truly are such a wonderful family," Morgan said, "and they did give Zachary the best life he could possibly have."