(Courtesy of Chai Lifeline) Every once in a while, someone comes into your life and changes you forever. For Dr. Andrew Silverman, oncology fellow at Children’s Hospital of New York Presbyterian at Columbia University Medical Center, that someone was a boy named Eli.
In 2005, young Eli underwent a heart transplant, following a difficult fight with heart failure, induced by a congenital heart defect, hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Though this procedure was intended to alleviate the difficulties Eli had already been facing, he continued to have complication after complication. Dr. Silverman first met Eli, a Chai Lifeline client, in July of 2016 following another complication of his heart transplant. For over two years, Dr. Silverman oversaw Eli’s care, providing 12 different lines of therapy, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, bone marrow transplant and immunotherapy.
Eli’s contagious smile and positive energy left a lasting impression on Dr. Silverman. He always looked forward to seeing Eli and his family members. Sadly, despite his arduous and brave fight, Eli succumbed to his illness in November of 2018, passing away in the loving arms of his mother and sister.
Dr. Silverman said that when he asked Eli’s mother what kept her going all these years, her answer was that “God, family, doctors, nurses and Chai Lifeline helped them get by.” Dr. Silverman saw firsthand all that Chai Lifeline had done for Eli’s family and for other children under his care in the hospital. He was drawn to Chai Lifeline’s mission of providing social, emotional and financial support to children with life-threatening or lifelong illnesses and their families—and was inspired to give back.
An avid runner, Dr. Silverman decided to join Team Lifeline, an endurance training program that brings teams of people to destination races across the country to raise funds and awareness for Chai Lifeline. On Sunday, January 27, Dr. Silverman and Eli’s sister, Yehudis, ran the Miami Half Marathon together in memory of Eli and to make a difference in the lives of other children and families living with pediatric illness.
“The run was wonderful,” said Dr. Silverman. “Along the way, people would come up to us during the half marathon and provide words of encouragement, sympathy and love. It truly was beautiful. This weekend was an awesome experience and I plan on coming back next year with Eli’s family and my own to raise some more money on behalf of Chai Lifeline!”
Dr. Silverman and Yehudis ran alongside 300 fellow Team Lifeline runners, the largest charity team on the course. Each year Team Lifeline participates in the Miami Marathon/ Half Marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon/ Half Marathon/10K, and New York City Marathon. To learn more about Team Lifeline, visit www.teamlifeline.org.