Los Angeles resident Mohamed Bzeek is known in his community for fostering children. But unlike most foster parents, Bzeek only fosters children with terminal illnesses.
PBS reported that Bzeek was a former marathon runner who immigrated to the U.S. from Libya in 1978 to study engineering. He became a citizen in 1997.
Bzeek and his wife, whom he met in the U.S., have been fostering terminally sick children for nearly 30 years. He told PBS that 10 children have died while in his care.
His current foster is a 6-year-old girl who has microcephaly, a disorder which affects brain development. She is blind and deaf and communicates through touch. She has been getting seizures frequently, so Bzeek will sleep on the couch to be nearer to her in case of an emergency.
In addition to fostering children, Bzeek and his wife are also caretakers for their son, Adam, who was born with brittle bones and dwarfism.
“I know it’s heartbreak. I know it’s a lot of work. I know it’s going to hurt me sometimes … I feel sad. But, in my opinion, we should help each other, you know?”
His wife tragically died in 2015. To help him care for his family, an aide comes to the home on weekdays. He was asked by PBS if he felt like carrying these burdens without his wife was too difficult to bear.
“Sometimes. But I know somebody who needs help. I will do it as long as I am healthy.”
Another blow, delivered in November, was when Bzeek was diagnosed with colon cancer.
“I find out in November I have colon cancer. And they told me ‘they have to operate on you in December.’ I said — ‘I talk with the surgeon.’ I said, ‘Doctor, I can’t. You have to give me time, because I have a foster kid who is terminal. And I have my son. He is handicapped. There is nobody for them.'”
Bzeek said that no one went with him to the hospital. He said that it was an eye-opening experience that informed him of what his foster children must feel when they get treatment at the hospital.Screenshot/PBS
“I felt about the kids who have been sick for all their life. If I am an adult, 62 years old, and I feel this, that I am alone, I am scared. Nobody tells me it’s okay and it will be fine. This experience, this humbled me.”
In December, Bzeek received his operation which went successfully, although he is still being treated.
A GoFundMe started for Bzeek has amassed more than $500,000. He was overwhelmed by the generosity people have shown him.
“I was reading all the comments that people put on the Internet. Every day, I was crying because of their kindness and the nice words they said.”
Bzeek conceded that although losing his foster kids to their illnesses is devastating, he wished to care for them because they didn’t have anyone else.
“These kids need somebody … Even though my heart is breaking. To me, death is part of life. And I’m glad that I help these kids go through this period of time, you know? And I help them. I be with them. I comfort them. I love him or her. And until they pass away, I am with them and make them feel they have a family and they has somebody who cares about them and loves them.”
It truly takes a special person to dedicate himself to children with terminal illnesses and to show them through actions that they are not alone.
You can watch the PBS story on Bzeek below.