By Sandy Eller – VIN News
Houston, TX – Just eight days after asking her Facebook friends to daven for a kriyas yam suf style miracle for her gravely ill son, the Houston mother whose White House petition to have the Food and Drug Administration allow a controversial treatment for her son garnered over 100,000 signatures, has announced his death on Facebook.
Refael Elisha Cohen, who was diagnosed with anaplastic medulloblastoma in October of 2012, as previously reported on VIN News, died this week. Despite being told by doctors that her six year old son’s condition was terminal, Devorah Cohen took to the internet in the hopes of pressuring the FDA to a “compassionate use exemption” in order to give Refael Elisha access to an alternative treatment offered by the controversial Burzynski Clinic.
The petition, which was created on December 3rd, circulated widely throughout the Jewish community via social media and email and ultimately garnered 102,215 signatures.
For Mrs. Cohen, the petition was not just a possible lifeline for her son but a symbol of the achdus of klal yisroel. In its official response to the petition, the White House called Refael Elisha’s illness “heartbreaking” but declined to intercede with the FDA on his behalf, saying “we are confident that the FDA will rely on its expertise and scientific judgment as it evaluates Refael Elisha’s case.”
A website established to help the Cohen family deal with the financial burdens associated with Refael Elisha’s illness, surpassed its goal of raising $100,000 for the family, ultimately bringing in $146,980.
As of April 10th, Mrs. Cohen reported that Refael Elisha was in a deep coma and was breathing only with medical intervention due to issues with his lungs. Turning to social media, she asked her friends and followers to continue including her son in their prayers.
“We believe in miracles that is our Jewish nature, the belief in the realm of above nature!” wrote Mrs. Cohen on Facebook. “We are praying and hoping for a miracle! I’m asking for your help, please tear the heavens with your prayers. Put my son’s name on mi sheberach lists, give his name to tzadikim, give tzdaka and have your children daven for him. Also please dedicate mitzvot in my sons honor so it can be a merit for his speedy recovery. While cleaning your houses for Pesach, please dedicate your holiday preparation to Refael Elisha Meir Ben Devorah. It’s weird, I actually miss cleaning, but I’m here in the ICU for the past 14 weeks….cancer makes you appreciate the mundane activities that we so take for granted.”
The Cohen family has announced that Refael Elisha will be buried in Israel.