Uncle provides comfort as family continues to #prayforSilas - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

FOX Medical Team

Uncle provides comfort as family continues to #prayforSilas

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It's been almost 90 days since a helicopter touched down at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta of Egleston with 4-month-old Silas Huffman inside. Almost overnight, he'd gone from seemingly healthy to critically ill.

Silas still looks perfectly healthy, but his heart is swollen and failing. In early September, he was placed on a waiting list for a donor heart.

Every weekend, Silas' Uncle Alex visits. He knows what Silas is facing because he's been there.

Alex Rebitch was in the ninth grade when he first came to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

"I first got diagnosed when I was 14 and whenever they diagnosed me, they knew right then eventually I would have to have a transplant," Rebitch said.

Alex was in need of a liver transplant. Children's has performed more than 400, but Alex would wait a long time -- growing sicker -- for his turn.

"I would have days when I would just break down and think, ‘I'm tired of living like this.' Because it's hard being drained all the time, but it was like, 'I can't put my life on hold, because who knows how long it will be,'" said Rebitch.

In the end, it took three years for the call to come, but it finally did.

Now Alex is back at Children's for his nephew. Silas Huffman, born in April, was airlifted to Children's in August in heart failure.

"I was on my way home from work, and my mom called me and said, ‘Silas was rushed to Egleston. Can you get there to be there with your sister?' So I was the first one there," Rebitch said.

Alex has been there for his big sister Amanda and her husband, Chris Huffman, who rushed home from an out of town gig with his band Casting Crowns to find his youngest of three children critically ill.

"In the beginning, I just kept telling my sister, 'He's at the best place he could be.'  I am a living testament of the work that they can do here for him," Rebitch said.

Silas needs a heart transplant.

"If I didn't have God, I would probably be a basket case. Some days I am a basket case," said Amanda Huffman.

That's where Alex comes in -- a reminder of life beyond the hospital.

"To let people know there's nothing you can't do.  I still graduated valedictorian from high school, facing all this. I graduated in four years from UGA," Rebitch said.

Now the baby they call "Super Silas," who smiles almost constantly, is waiting for his turn. He's hooked up to a Berlin heart pump, which carries the load for his weakened heart. When Silas looks at Alex, it's almost like he knows that they share something.

"I mean when he was here this past weekend, he was just staring at him, and smiling at him," Amanda Huffman said.

And so they wait. The uncle who got a second chance; the baby they pray will have his.

It's been four years since Alex Rebitch's liver transplant. He's now 25 and working as a program specialist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are now nine children waiting for a donor heart at Children's. Silas' parents said they wake up every day wondering if that's the day that he will get his transplant.

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