Support Officer Elia Lewin-Tankel

$136,012 of $150,000 goal

Raised by 1,050 people in 12 months
Created October 27, 2017
On October 18th, 32-year-old Officer Elia Lewin-Tankel was on duty on his bicycle, when he was struck by a suspect's car. He suffered a serious head trauma, and was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to remove part of his skull to manage swelling in his brain.

Elia is making slow, but incremental progress. We are buoyed by the changes we see every day. It will be a long recovery, but he has a fighting spirit and we know he will persevere. As Shideh (Elia’s wife) eloquently wrote, "This is not the end of Elia's story." He is being cared for by the incredible ICU staff at SF General Hospital and with deep support from the San Francisco Police Department.

Currently, Shideh is an English teacher at Mission High (a San Francisco public school) and her paid time off will soon be exhausted. We want to ensure that she can continue to be by Elia's side—without any additional worry—as he recovers.

Any amount helps and will go directly to supporting this young family during this difficult and unexpected experience.

Donate now to support Elia and Shideh.
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We wanted to give everyone a quick update as we near the 1-year anniversary of Elia’s accident on October 18th. Elia is living in Bakersfield, rehabbing at the Center For Neuro Skills. CNS specializes in brain injury rehab, and Elia gets six hours of therapy a day. They're really pushing him towards becoming independent again. To that point, Elia is now walking with a walker and is starting to walk without the need for his walker during physical therapy. This is pretty exciting news, considering how active Elia needs to be (hiking, kayaking, wrestling, etc). Elia’s vision is also improving thanks to an amazing neuro-optometrist who believes Elia’s vision can be rehabilitated.

In that last year, a lot of people have inquired about Elia’s awareness of what happened, where he is etc. The good news is that Elia is becoming more aware of his situation, which shows definite progress. But with that increased awareness comes the frustration of feeling stuck and wanting growth to happen more quickly, and wanting to go home and have a normal life again. But the therapists tell Elia’s family that more frustration is a good sign!

Elia and his wife Shideh, his mom Barbara, and his dad Phil, all continue to live in Bakersfield with Elia. As do Shideh’s parents James and Lily. And if you hadn’t heard, Elia’s son, baby Iman is strong, happy, and healthy. It’s unknown how long Elia and his family will be staying in Bakersfield, but they tell us that Elia is exactly where he needs to be right now. And although progress is SLOW, it's steady, and so both the therapists and his family are very happy.

In the end, Kate and I are posting today because every brain injury is unique: Elia's requires him to relearn so many things — vision, mobility, communication, mood, memory, adequate sleep. Unfortunately, the traditional medical approach can be quite limited at times. A lot of alternative supplements and therapies that have been proven to help many TBI patients are not covered by insurance, which means Elia’s family ends up paying out of pocket. Some of Elia’s successful therapies will continue throughout his lifetime to ensure his brain continues to work at its optimal level. While we know that with enough time and hard work Elia will recover from this even stronger, we also know that it's a long road ahead. To that end, we’re doing another fundraising push to support Elia & his family during this next phase of his recovery. Any support would be much appreciated, as the family does whatever is necessary for Elia to lead a normal life.

We kindly ask, if your budget allows, that you’ll consider donating today to Elia, Shideh, and Iman as the anniversary of his accident approaches. 

Thank you all for your continued support and inquiries. Below is a note from Shideh, Elia’s wife:

I am forever grateful to this community of family, friends, and strangers alike—your generosity and outpouring of love are things I'm still processing as this intense year comes to an end. Even sitting here now writing this message, I'm moved to tears because even within such a dark and difficult time I've experienced so much light and love. It's impossible to explain what this year has been like in one paragraph, but I can tell you that I've learned so much about the duality of life, how the moment is really the only thing we have, and I’ve learned acceptance—not in the sense of giving up, but in the sense of learning to adapt and thrive within any situation. But what I've learned most of all is that we're all connected, that this space is more than just a place to collect donations, but an opportunity for Elia and I to feel this forcefield of support and love even from afar. Elia will never be the person he was before his accident, and neither will I, and neither will most people who are very close to us. I read somewhere that experiencing trauma is like going through a time machine, you can't ever really go back, but you can choose who you will become in this new life. And so despite still having some days of sadness or anger or exhaustion or longing for the past, I'm choosing to see this as a new beginning for Elia, Iman, and myself. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kindness, concern, and generosity. 
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Dear Team Elia,

Last week, Elia left Santa Clara Valley Medical center to head to a new facility in Bakersfield. The Center for Neuro Skills is a private facility dedicated solely to rehabbing TBI patients. Elia will stay in Bakersfield for approximately 3-4 months.

It’s tough to see Elia leave the Bay, but we must keep in mind that his amazing progress at Santa Clara and transition to Bakersfield is good news: It means he outgrew SCVM center and graduates to a more challenging rehab center.

At the Bakersfield facility, Elia will continue to work on so many of the skills he solidified at SCVM: Talking and maintaining conversation, starting to walk, eating on his own, and of course singing, laughing, and smiling! The new facility will also pay greater attention to his vision, and work with him to improve in this area. Visual skills are critical for overall progress with a TBI.

In the 7 months Elia was at SCVM center, he made tremendous progress and we expect this trend to continue in Bakersfield.

Thank you all so much for keeping Elia, Shideh, baby Iman, and the rest of their family in your thoughts. All of them have shown extraordinary courage, grace, and resilience but as they are quick to point out, none of them could have achieved this on their own.

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Hello all,

We have wonderful news to share with all of you: Shideh & Elia welcomed their healthy baby boy into the world today!

His name is Iman Leo Lewin-Tankel. Iman means "faith" in Farsi, and he is a shining light for the entire family.

Feel free to post your best wishes to Elia, Shideh, Iman Leo, and the rest of their family below.
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Hello everyone,

Just a quick update to let you know that Elia has continued to make great progress after returning to the rehab facility.

After the series of surgical complication symptoms from his skull replacement abated and he was able to return to regular physical and speech therapy, he's been working hard each and every day, as he always does.

He's still talking with regular frequency, and music has been an big source of strength and progress during his recovery—when his favorite music is playing, he'll often complete the lyrics.

He's started eating solid foods and drinking water, and no longer needs the feeding tube, which is a huge psychological boost for someone recovering from a TBI. He's regained enough dexterity to to drink water on his own (lifting a cup from his hand to his mouth to drink), which is impressive and heartening to see.

Now that his skull is fully intact and healing, he has started regular physical therapy. He's rolling over on his own, and his physical therapy team gets him out of bed and, with the assistance of some incredible robotic supports, he's in the very beginning stages of relearning to walk.

As always, we're amazed and inspired by Elia's—and Shideh's—incredible strength and resilience. Their love is pulling them through this difficult process, and it's remarkably beautiful to witness.

Finally, I'm most happy to share this piece of wonderful news, for those who aren't aware yet: Elia & Shideh are expecting their first child, a baby boy, in May.

As always, thank you all for everything you've done to support Elia, Shideh, and their growing family.

All the best,
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$136,012 of $150,000 goal

Raised by 1,050 people in 12 months
Created October 27, 2017
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