Meet Eli - An Extraordinary Boy with a Form of Kidney Cancer Called Wilms Tumor

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“Little boys get hernias,” thought Tammi when her toddler grandson had a small knot in his belly.

The family was not too concerned, but they did check in with their longtime pediatrician. However, the physician was concerned and sent Eli for scans and x-rays that showed a mass.  Eli was immediately sent to the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital where the family stayed for 11 days.

Eli had a type of kidney cancer called Wilms Tumor, but his case was pretty extraordinary. As Tammi notes, “Wilms most often involves just one kidney and one tumor. Eli had more than 20 tumors on both kidneys.  Because the University of Maryland is a teaching hospital, everyone knew who Eli was.  Doctors and residents would come to see him because this was a rare case.”

“The first step was chemotherapy to try and shrink the tumors,” says Ashley Munchel, MD.  Eli was treated with several rounds of chemotherapy in addition to the surgery and radiation.  “Our goal is to get children with cancer into remission.  But we treat more than just the child’s cancer.  We must take care of the child emotionally and we really need to treat the whole family,” adds Dr. Munchel.

Eli’s family developed a very special relationship with their pediatric surgeon, Eric Strauch, MD, an associate professor of surgery at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine.  “Dr. Strauch is just amazing and we love him.  He tells us that Eli is the only child who had Wilms with that many tumors and is still alive today,” explains Tammi.

Now three years later, Eli spends time playing baseball, video games, and wants to be a police officer when he grows up.

For more information about UMCH or to make an appointment, please call 1-800-492-5538 (patients) or 1-800-373-4111 (physicians).

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