Doves and balloons hovered over the skies early Monday afternoon in memory of Elliot Andrew Newcomb, a 2-year-old who died suddenly weeks after arriving home from the hospital for the first time.
“Who would have thought that this little man could pack so much love and so much life into such a short period of time,” Todd Smith, pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Valencia, said to attendees during a morning service. “It’s represented through all of you here today.”
More than 200 family members, friends and members of the community gathered at the church, followed by a reception at Northpark Clubhouse.
While many broke down during an emotional slideshow of Elliot’s short journey and a special performance by singer-songwriter Karli Webster, attendees were reminded by the 2-year-old’s parents that the event was “not just a remembrance of death but the celebration of life.”
“Looking at Elliot, it was undeniable that he had physical disabilities,” said mother Sara Newcomb, who has two other children. “But I am here to tell you that he was so much more than that. He was innocence, purity and hope wrapped up in human form.”
In early August, Elliot, who was 2 years and 6 months old, was welcomed into his Saugus home for the first time following an 895-day journey in intensive care. His sudden death occurred on Oct. 9 while on his way to Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles from Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.
Elliot had spent all of his life under 24/7 supervision for a developed chronic lung disease known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia, or BPD, which leads to requiring respiratory support to breathe.
His condition had left the young boy on supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day and with a tracheostomy tube as an alternative airway for breathing.
Nonetheless, classic Elliot always had a smile and was even known as the Prince of PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) by several hospital staff members.
Lung doctor Eugene Sohn, who was part of Elliot’s medical team at Kaiser, said during the Monday service that the boy’s journey has not yet ended.
“I feel blessed to have cared for him, and I learned a lot along the way,” he said. “I learned new medical techniques that we’re already using to treat children with similar conditions to Elliot’s. I am confident that his journey has not ended. While Elliot’s life on Earth may have been short, he will continue to have an impact on many lives to come.”
Sohn referred to Kaiser using ventilation protocols of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, which is known for its BPD research. More than one child in Kaiser Los Angeles is now using the same care that Elliot received.
“Perhaps the most comforting gift that Elliot has left us was his medical legacy,” said his mother Sara. “Knowing that because of him and his condition, entire hospital staff has changed the way they treat and heal babies, making this journey so significant. The hope and promise that children won’t have to spend as long sedated, hospitalized and away from their families was Elliot’s legacy.”
Sara and husband Bryan Newcomb are planning on creating a charity, titled “#LoveFromElliot,” to keep his memory alive and help other families cope with their children’s long-term hospital living.
A GoFundMe was created for Elliot’s medical needs but is now designated for the charity.