Some believe diet is a choice. Others view it as an opportunity to improve one’s health. But, for Elie Chapman, her life revolves around a special diet.
At 6 years old, Elie was brought to the UF Health Pediatric Emergency Room multiple times due to severe abdominal pain. She had been dealing with vomiting – throwing up more than 30 times – diarrhea, dehydration and even suffered a small seizure when her blood sugar dropped to 42 mg/dL.
“Elie’s life was that of a normal child before,” said Lisa Chapman, Elie’s mother. “We always knew that she had to have frequent snacks or we would see behavior changes, so we managed her the best way we knew how.”
After tests, IV fluids, inconclusive findings and several overnight stays, Elie was diagnosed with glycogen storage disease (GSD), a rare condition caused by an enzyme deficiency where the body is unable to convert glycogen into glucose for energy. Thankfully, David A. Weinstein, M.D., M.M.Sc., is a world-renowned GSD specialist who, at the time, directed the GSD program at the University of Florida. His advice on routine dietary supplements kept Elie from being hospitalized.
“Being a registered nurse, it means so much,” Lisa said. “Dr. Weinstein’s expertise provided us with the information and knowledge we needed so that Elie can live a normal and healthy life.
“She is now followed yearly by Dr. Angelina Bernier at UF pediatric endocrinology, who engages Elie in any questions she may have.”
Turning 15 years old this month, Elie lives an active life fueled by daily protein supplements. She participates in the arts and sports, playing volleyball on Gainesville High School’s junior varsity team. To maintain her blood sugar and prevent muscle breakdown, the teenager drinks protein shakes twice a day. She also continues to snack in moderation and monitor her blood glucose and ketones with a finger stick. These measures have helped her avoid hospitalization, which last happened almost three years ago.
“We have found a way to treat Elie so that we can prevent her from being hospitalized,” Lisa explained. “We have some answers to her health problems but are still trying to work on it because it is still a work in progress as she grows.”
Today, Elie enjoys being involved in Dance Marathon at UF. Her sister Emily was a DM family relations captain while studying at the University of Florida. Emily has since graduated, but the Chapmans have remained an active Miracle Family for almost eight years. For Elie, she appreciates Dance Marathon’s ability to connect her with new people and make life-long friends.
“DM provides a community where we can relate to other families that have gone through similar experiences,” Lisa said. “It has created an extended family for us.”
Programs like Dance Marathon thrive because of donors like you. Your steadfast support toward CMN Hospitals helps kids like Elie live life to the fullest. Thank you for your generosity!
Interested in learning more about our CMN Ambassador Program? Visit giving.UFHealth.org/ambassadors.
This September, we’d like to spotlight the health care heroes who display their expertise and compassion as they care for these children every day.
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