TPD Major shares heart-felt connection with boy awaiting transplant

Published: Oct. 24, 2021 at 10:00 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Elijah Diaz and his family are finding support from someone who knows firsthand what he is going through as he awaits a heart transplant.

Elijah, 7, and his sister Kinley received the royal treatment on a recent visit to Topeka’s Law Enforcement Center, as honorary officers with the Topeka Police Department.

Elijah recapped seeing the vehicles, meeting the officers, and - his favorite - spending time with K9 officer Radar.

“He’s soft...and whatever you say he does,” Elijah said.

Elijah was born with a severely underdeveloped left ventricle, essentially leaving him with half a heart. This summer, he was placed on the transplant list.

“We’ve been waiting 106 days,” Elijah’s mom Ali Diaz said. “It’s hard. Every time someone calls, you think it could be that call.”

Topeka Police Maj. Russ Klumpp arranged the family’s visit. He saw the 13 NEWS story about Elijah in August, and contacted us to get in touch with the family.

“It had a special connection for me because I went through a transplant,” he said.

Klumpp received a new heart in August 2020, and said he wanted Elijah and his family to know someone understood what the entire family was going through.

“There will be things he doesn’t understand - the why of things, and there’s gonna be some things that are scary - even for a 46-year-old cop,” Klumpp said.

But the visit was about the smiles.

“I love to see a smile on his face - him being happy, being able to enjoy his life,” Ali said.

While they wait, Klumpp hopes sharing his story gives the family a little something extra to lean on.

“At least, if nothing else, provide some hope - because hope has a power we don’t even understand yet,” Klumpp said. “Without hope, everything else falls apart.”

Ali said Klumpp reassured her Elijah will get through his challenges, and will come out of it strong.

“You feel like having a transplant restricts you from so many things, but a police officer having a transplant does give you a lot of hope,” Ali said.

Kinley, too, is hopeful for her brother’s future.

“I hope that he does his dream, what he wants to do, and his heart is better,” she said.

Elijah’s family has insurance, but they still face expenses traveling to Kansas City often several times a week for medical appointments. They also face a likely two-month stay there when Elijah gets his transplant. If you can help the family, you can donate through this GoFundMe page.

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