A 4-year-old Cypriot boy has been fighting for his life since he was three weeks old, but now he will undergo a special surgery at CHOP.
One child’s struggle to live has brought together governments, organizations and individuals from Philadelphia, Cyprus and Israel.
Since he was three weeks old, Lampros Kallenos, a 4-year-old Cypriot boy, has been fighting for his life at Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer in Israel. His battle to survive is now taking place in Philadelphia — he was admitted to the intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Dec. 28.
Kallenos suffers from a type of lymphangiomatosis, a rare condition characterized by a diffuse proliferation of lymphatic vessels. It can affect internal organs, bones, soft tissue and/or skin. Because of his condition, he has been in and out of hospitals most of his life.
At CHOP, he is scheduled to undergo a special type of heart surgery, which cannot be performed in Israel — or, for that matter, anywhere else in the world. Additionally, he may go to Boston Children’s Hospital, for more testing in hopes of discovering a more effective type of therapy.
Because of his condition — fluid is constantly leaking into his lungs and other vital organs — the trip required a medevac Learjet with four refueling stops on the 14-hour trip. He departed from Tel Aviv; because of space restrictions due to the equipment on the plans, his parents Pantelis and Christina flew commercially and arrived Monday afternoon.
“He is a very small boy,” said Michalis Firillas, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Israel. “He is very frail and has the body of a 2-year-old. We’re losing this boy.”
He and Lampros’ parents are in close touch with the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Israel — Cyprus covers all their medical expenses — but also as a natural extension of the humanitarian support which it provides for Cypriot citizens in Israel.
“Every time I see him, he is unable to breathe,” Firillas said. “It’s really heart-wrenching to see this.”
Firillas told the Jewish Exponent that medicine in Israel is more advanced than in Cyprus, which is why Kallenos has been there since he was three weeks old. However, his disease has been very difficult to treat and his health has been a problem.
“There’s been no progress and this has been very disturbing for the medical team there,” he said. “They reached a dead end in a cycle of slight improvement and rapid deterioration.”
Once the Israeli doctors saw they could no longer offer him the care he needed to get better, they began to look for solutions abroad.
Dr. Hana Golan — the physician in charge of Kallenos’ case — “started scouring the medical centers throughout the United States to find a place that had more experience than her and could help him,” Firillas said.
The hospital contacted CHOP, but the real concern was how to get him there. Since Dec. 20, he has been ventilated artificially, which was mostly precautionary, but Firillas said it seems to be having a positive effect on his lungs.
“We as an embassy have mobilized on a number of levels,” he said.
The Cypriot government is not alone in the effort to save Kallenos. Many in the Cypriot and Greek community in Philadelphia, from doctors to restaurants — as well as the American Jewish Committee of Philadelphia/SNJ — are pitching in.
Cornelius Anastasiadis, president of the Philadelphia Chapter Hercules-Spartan #26 of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), said his organization has been hard at work securing hotel rooms for the family and communicating with numerous other Greek organizations. Anastasiadis said AHEPA member, Theoklis Zaoutis, who is the chief of the division of Infectious Diseases at CHOP and director of the Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness Research at the CHOP Research Institute, will be one of the physicians taking care of the boy.
“The Cypriot community is going to help in any way they can,” he said, adding that the family “won’t even have to worry about paying for food.”
Marcia Brosntein, the regional director of AJC Philadelphia/SNJ, who has worked with Firillas and Anastasiadis on providing the Kallenos family assistance when it arrives, said this is a sad case, yet with all of these people helping, hope still remains.
“It’s an international connection here,” Bronstein said. “Because of our relationship and work in these countries, the foreign officials feel comfortable reaching out to us. This is a case that everybody is proud and happy to help with.”
There are numerous ways to donate to the care of Lampros Kallenos, including:
or by sending a check — put “Lampros Donation” on it — to the Cyprus Society of Greater Philadelphia
509 Goldfinch Lane
Ambler, PA 19002
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 215-832-0747