Meet Elijah—a miracle boy.
This is his mother, April.
His sister, Ellianna.
And his father, Jason.
Together, with a lot of love, science and difficult choices—they’re survivors.
This is Elijah in September 2012.
At just 25 weeks, Elijah was partially removed from his mother’s womb so surgeons at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia could remove this tumor (the size of an orange) from his left lung.
The operation had to be done before his birth to stop the tumor from smothering his heart and right lung.
Though results weren’t guaranteed, it was the Leffingwells’ only hope if they wanted to give their son any chance of life.
Even if it meant losing April in the process.
Midway through the surgery, Elijah’s heart stopped. The doctors massaged it back to life and he went back inside his mom’s womb. April lived.
Now 2 years old, Elijah lives.
Those who’ve spent time with him say it is as if he already understands the fragility of life. He looks at people “as if he has a lifetime of experiences and can relate to what they’re saying.”
A stark contrast from his sister.
“Ellianna is more like, ‘Bring it on,’” April says of her firstborn. “Whereas, Elijah, since he was born, is a really cautious little boy.”
Ellianna dives into sandwiches and candy, but Elijah’s appetite is small.
“I don’t know if he really knows hunger,” April said. She keeps pre-sliced avocados and celery in the fridge to get Elijah to eat.
But Elliana looks out for her little brother, who spent his first year of life developing slowly, constrained by a feeding tube and hospital visits.
The Leffingwells don’t expect Elijah will face any ill effects in the future—and they’re excited for their little boy’s miracle life.
“I look forward to what Elijah will be able to do,” Jason said. “Because he’s here for a purpose. For him to go through everything he has gone through, it isn’t for nothing.”
>> Read and watch the Leffingwells’ story