Paying it Forward
Posted: 14-Aug-2019

Eli Defies the Odds

Damascus Year 7 student, Eli Spielvogel has overcome significant adversity in his short 13 year life, and he now wants to pay it forward by shaving his head to raise money for the Leukemia Foundation.

Eli said that he knows first-hand what it is like to be a sick kid, so he wants to raise money to support other sick kids like him.

“My other reason for shaving my head is that I want a child with no hair to benefit and gain confidence from receiving my hair,” Eli said.

Eli was born with a heart murmur, and one week post birth he was rushed to the Royal Children’s Hospital where his mum and dad, Adam and Naomi, were told that it was unlikely he would survive the trip.

Eli was diagnosed with multiple heart defects, including atrial septum and ventricular septal defects, which in layman’s terms means multiple holes in his heart and a blocked aorta.  His aorta was repaired at nine days old and six months later he had open heart surgery to repair the holes in his heart.

Eli’s dad Adam said that after surgery there was no sinus rhythm so a temporary pacemaker was installed with the hope his own heart beat would return, however it did not return so the pacemaker was made permanent.

“Given his complications he stayed in ICU for two weeks and was sent home to us on Christmas Eve,” said Adam.

“Eli spent his first Christmas going through morphine withdrawals and was sent home with a pain management schedule to wean him off it.”

At age eight, Eli’s heart miraculously regained its own heartbeat, so fortunately his pacemaker was able to be removed, but he still had a leaky valve in his heart which is monitored by the Royal Children’s Hospital every six months, for the rest of his life.

Since then, his life has progressed normally as a young person, where he went on to attend St James Primary School and overcame some social issues, but thankfully had no health issues during this period.

“Eli will likely need medical intervention at some stage of his life.  Given he has had dozens of chest x-rays there is a greater chance of him developing complications due to repeated radiation exposure from a very young age,” said Adam.

After so many hospital visits, tests and surgeries at such a young age, Eli has defied the odds and is now really enjoying his first year at Damascus.  His favorite subject is Maths and he loves being a part of the Minecraft Club, an extra-curricular opportunity at the College.


Eli now dreams of becoming an airline pilot and currently has flying lessons which he absolutely loves.  He plans to obtain his private pilot’s licence on his 15th birthday, which is the youngest day he is allowed to fly solo.

Eli has traveled life’s journey so far with numerous bumps in the road, but he has come out the other side and has developed in to a beautiful soul, where his compassion, empathy and willingness to give to others are extraordinary.

“He has taught me to accept the giving of others, as I know how much it means to Eli to give and have his gift accepted.  He is smart with his possessions and will ration his Easter Eggs for the year but will happily give away anything to see people happy.  He is just that special and caring kind of kid,” said Adam.

See below for more on Eli's story:-

To support Eli and his worthy cause to raise money for the Leukemia Foundation, please go to:

Event:               Eli shaves his head for a cure

When:               Tuesday 20th August, 12:30pm 

Where:             Damascus College, 1412 Geelong Road, Mt Clear

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