Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Through heart problems, transplant by age 9, Palm Harbor University High grad's will never wavered

PALM HARBOR — At her high school graduation party, Zarin Hamid seemed to float across the floor in her evening gown. She wore red, a color symbolic of love and the heart — fitting for a young woman who endured four open-heart surgeries and a heart transplant by the time she had reached fourth grade.

"Zarin pushed herself even when she had no energy," said Syama Hamid, her mother. "Before her heart transplant, she couldn't eat. Her lips were purple and her fingertips blue."

And yet, through sheer force of will, she's graduating from Palm Harbor University High School.

Zarin was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital condition in which the left side of the heart is underdeveloped and cannot pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body. For years, before undergoing the transplant in 2003, Zarin suffered from extreme shortness of breath, weakness and the inability to digest food.

"It's easier to give up, stay at home and let your dreams die than to go to school," Zarin said. "Despite my hardships and all that's been thrown against me, I keep trying to move forward."

Her recent graduation party at the Palm Harbor Community Activity Center brought in friends and educators who have been with her the whole way.

"We wanted to recognize all the people there for her when she was struggling," said her father, Ashar. "I am so impressed by Zarin's will, not to just live, but also to achieve in school."

Some of the guests had known Zarin since her kindergarten days at Oldsmar Elementary School.

Debbie (Morin) Manning has been a guidance counselor at the school for 16 years. She used to feed Zarin sips of a vanilla-flavored enriched drink when the other children ran out to physical education.

"She's always been strong," Manning said. "We saw her at her sickest before the transplant. She came to school every day. She wanted to be there."

Oldsmar Elementary principal David Schmitt said, "It was amazing how she maintained good grades and a good attitude. In all my 34 years of experience as a principal, she had the most physical challenges of any child."

Even after the transplant, Zarin faces challenges. For the rest of her life, she must adhere to a strict post-transplant regimen of diet, exercise and medications. She also struggles with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, and vocal cords that were damaged during the transplant. Zarin can only speak in a soft, whisper-like voice. But her determination speaks for itself.

She's humbled by the support her parents have given her throughout her life. She gets choked up talking about all they have done and still do.

"It's about attitude," said her mother. "No matter what health problem you're having, a positive attitude means you can manage your health and focus on education, which will take you far."

In August, Zarin begins classes at Saint Leo University, where she will live and major in psychology.

"Child life therapists helped me cope with my illness and hospital stays," she said. "I hope to give back. I know how the kids feel and think I can connect with them. I hope to become a child life therapist."

No one at the party doubted she will.

After a reading from the Koran, music and the aroma of home-cooked Pakistani food filled the air. The room overflowed with people Zarin had connected with over the years. But there were few dry eyes.

As the song Dog Days Are Over played, she greeted her young friends with a smile.

"I remember going on field trips in a wheelchair," she said. "Now I'm going off to college."

Through heart problems, transplant by age 9, Palm Harbor University High grad's will never wavered 06/11/11 [Last modified: Saturday, June 11, 2011 3:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners

    Business

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

  2. UF president Kent Fuchs: 'Charlottesville changed everything' (w/video)

    K12

    GAINESVILLE — Wednesday evening, hazy rumors of an impending Neo-Nazi march reached some wary protesters. A few quickly rallied to denounce the marchers in downtown Gainesville, only to find plazas empty but for police.

    University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs talks with reporters Wednesday about white nationalist Richard Spencer's planned speech on Thursday. He said of Spencer: "In a small way, he is causing us to redouble our focus on supporting actions that are the opposite of what he wants." [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  3. Kenya vote chief says 'difficult' to have credible election

    World

    NAIROBI, Kenya — It is "difficult to guarantee a free, fair and credible election" in Kenya's fresh presidential vote just eight days away despite "full technical preparedness," the head of the election commission said Wednesday as another wave of uncertainty swept through East Africa's largest economy.

  4. International array of artists chosen as finalists for Pier project

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A diverse group of six artists will compete for a chance to install their work at the city's multimillion-dollar Pier District, expected to open in early 2019.

  5. Former Jabil executive's fate in hands of murder trial jury

    Criminal

    LARGO — For a second time, Patrick Evans' future is in the hands of a jury.

    Patrick Evans talks with Allison Miller, one of his three public defenders, before jury selection this w eek. Evans, a former Jabil executive charged with killing his estranged wife and her friend almost 10 years ago, is back in court for a second trial after his original death sentence conviction was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times