Local News

Mother grieves for son who died in Fayetteville fire, donates his heart

Posted May 23, 2014

Latonya DeBerry’s life will never be the same.

She was visiting a friend across the parking lot of her duplex on Old Shaw Road in Fayetteville early Thursday when she looked back to see smoke and fire filling her home. Six of her children were inside, and her boyfriend, Robert Edmond Jr., was desperately trying to get them out.

“He went back in to get the rest of the kids, and then he bumped into my daughter, Carnise,” DeBerry said. “He grabbed her out, but she fell out of his arms, and that’s when he tried to go back in there to find Zion.”

Five-year-old Zion Lilly didn't make it. He died at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.

“He was just a happy kid,” DeBerry said. “He loved his bicycle. He loved air fresheners to put on his bicycle. He loved football. He was just a good kid."

At the hospital, DeBerry was told of a little boy in need of a heart. She was asked if she would be willing to donate Zion’s.

"I thought about it, and it was on my heart to let him go to help another child. So my baby…could live on to help another child with his heart.”

While DeBerry grieves for her son, she’s comforted to know he could help another child.

“It’s going to be hard because he was my angel,” she said.


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  • Khaleel Murphy May 23, 2014
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    I keep this family in my prayers and its such a blessing that someone else gets a chance at life he is in heaven

  • 50s Child May 23, 2014

    What a breathtakingly unselfish act. Dear lady, dear sir, my heart is with you.

  • Rob Sargent May 23, 2014
    user avatar

    So sorry for you loss, if it's any consolation, so one will live in your son's name. God bless you for such a donation. www.donatelifenc.com will help if any in your grieving. They are a fantastic group.

  • Ron Coleman May 23, 2014
    user avatar

    What a big bright smile. RIP little guy you are in a better place. I can't imagine how difficult it was for his mom to decide to donate his heart but just know who ever receives it your little boy will live on through them and thank you for giving the gift of life to someone who needed it.

  • Anne Walker May 23, 2014
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    May Ms. DeBerry and Mr. Edmond find comfort in knowing that this beautiful little man's heart will live on.

    For what it may be worth, my best thoughts are with everyone concerned.

  • "Screen Name-8/20" May 23, 2014

    Tragic! Looks like such a sweet child. Pray he didn't suffer long, prayers for those who loved him and prayers for the child who received his organs, to live a long and happy life.