Chance encounter leads to diagnosis after years of unanswered questions

EllaPaul and Jennifer Silva had been struggling with multiple doctor visits, tests and unanswered questions about their 9-year-old daughter, Ella. It wasn’t until a chance encounter that led them to finding what and who they were looking for.

The “who” they found was Holly Gilmer, M.D., medical director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Beaumont Children’s Hospital, and the “what” was Chiari malformation.

Scott, a surgical distributor, and family friend of the Silvas was at Beaumont waiting to meet with one of our physicians when he struck up a conversation with Sonja Young, Beaumont’s Chiari Program Coordinator.

As Sonja was describing the work she did at Beaumont and the development of the Chiari program and her personal experience, a light bulb went off for Scott. Immediately after leaving the office, Scott called Paul to share Sonja’s struggle, which seemed to match the struggle Paul and Jennifer were experiencing with Ella.

The Silvas called Dr. Gilmer the next day.

Ellla's Chiari surgeryElla underwent successful Chiari decompression surgery with Dr. Gilmer 11 weeks later, seven weeks after a confirmed diagnosis. If her recovery goes as planned, she’ll be discharged as early as tomorrow. After years of seeing doctors and specialists, the Silvas, especially Ella, are optimistic for a bright future.

“To Dr. Gilmer and the rest of the team, I want to say thank you for making such an impact on my little Ella’s life. We can’t thank you enough,” says Paul.

For the Silvas, the thank yous weren’t enough. The family was so grateful for the care their daughter received at Beaumont that they had to find a way to give back. After seeing the success of various fundraising campaigns through social media, the couple started their campaign on Facebook to help raise awareness for pediatric Chiari and additional education for Beaumont’s Neuroscience Center of Excellence staff. In just two days, more than $12,000 has been raised.

The Silvas presented the money to Dr. Gilmer with the instructions to help educate more and more physicians about the early signs of Chiari and raise awareness so more kids, like Ella, can find answers and help!

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2 thoughts on “Chance encounter leads to diagnosis after years of unanswered questions

  1. paul silva says:

    Here’s the link to the Facebook Causes page to donate….please consider helping get the word out through your generous donations. Thank you.

  2. Pam Pratt says:

    Thank you, Silva Family, for your thoughtful fundraising efforts. Best wishes to your little “Wonder Girl,” Ella!

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