Children go to this man to die

Children go to this man to die

This man with a heart of gold has fostered dying children for over two decades. Here's the story of his incredible and heart-rending journey.

Ten of his children have died in his arms.

Mohamed Bzeek has spent more than twenty years as a foster dad, caring for ill and dying children in his home. A Libyan-born man living in Los Angeles County, California, Bzeek has provided love and care for over 40 terminally-ill children. 

An angel for dying children

Children go to this man to die

Image Credit: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times, PBS Newshour

At any given time, nearly 600 children in LA County’s foster care system have severe medical needs. Though there is a grave need for foster parents to care for them, many shy away from taking in dying children. 

Bzeek is the only guardian angel these children have. “He’s the only one that would take a child who could not possibly make it,” Melissa Testerman, intake coordinator from the Department of Children and Family Services, tells the LA Times.

When new parents learn their babies don’t have long to live, they often can’t afford to take care of them — or choose not to. “They put them in a facility or a hospital… they never have family,” Bzeek says in an interview with ABC News.

As a foster dad, Bzeek is a pillar of strength for these vulnerable little ones. “We take them and they have family… and when they die they die with their family.”

Currently, this dad with a heart of gold cares for one foster daughter, a 6-year-old girl with a rare brain defect.

Children go to this man to die

Bzeek and his foster daughter. (Screenshots from PBS Newshour)

In her short life, the bedridden girl has braved an unthinkable amount of bodily suffering. She is blind and deaf, has daily seizures, and her four limbs are paralyzed. 

Bzeek has cared for her tirelessly since she was a month old. Being a dad is a full-time job — in six years, he’s never had a single day off. He sleeps next to her and gets up as soon as she moves, for fear that she is choking. 

“I know she can’t hear, can’t see, but I always talk to her,” he reveals. “I’m always holding her, playing with her, touching her. … She has feelings. She has a soul. She’s a human being.”

Loving them like his own 

Children go to this man to die

Image Credit: PBS Newshour, Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times

Bzeek first began fostering thanks to his late wife Dawn, who was a foster mum well before she met Bzeek. She was herself inspired by the kindness of her grandparents, who had been foster parents.

This amazing mum opened her doors to all foster children who needed immediate placement, and her heart to every child who sheltered with her. Though she was scared of tiny things like bugs, she was never afraid of her fosters’ illnesses, Bzeek says. 

This extraordinary couple married and began fostering together. They had a son, Adam, born with brittle bone disease and dwarfism. Currently 19, he is unfazed by his illnesses — he studies computer science at Citrus College and zooms about on an electric wheelchair. 

Children go to this man to die

A pillow stitched with the words, “Dad is like duct tape holding our home together”.
(Screenshot from PBS Newshour)

Inevitably, these long years of selfless toil have taken their toll. Bzeek confesses that he can never remain unaffected by the pain of losing his kids, adoptive or not. The deaths of some kids “hurt me so hard, I was crying for three years,” he says. 

But asked whether this grief ever made him think of stopping, the dauntless dad said no. “Because I know these kids need me, I can’t say no.”

“The key is, you have to love them like your own,” Bzeek says. “I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.”

It’s incredibly humbling to know such angels on earth exist — parents with so much love in their hearts. How hopeful it is to think, as parents, that many of the weakest and most ill children among us won’t find themselves abandoned, even in their darkest moments. 

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Written by

Jolene Hee

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