March 5, 2024

Lily Elliott beamed with excitement as she sat in her wheelchair at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on July 29, 2023, awaiting her favorite singer’s entrance onto the stage. On the back of her chair, Lily, 17, taped a sign: “Having brain surgery 2 weeks ago didn’t stop me from seeing Taylor Swift!”

“I had been looking forward to that concert for so long,” said Lily, who got Eras Tour tickets months in advance. “It was surreal to be there after the weeks leading up to it.”

Two weeks before the concert, Lily had surgery at the Kaiser Permanente (KP) Oakland Medical Center to address a sudden brain bleed.

The man with magic hands

When Lily woke up on July 4, 2023, with aching pain at the base of her neck, she thought that she just slept wrong.

But in the following days, the pain worsened, and she started getting double vision and dizziness.

So Lily’s parents took her to the emergency department at the KP Walnut Creek Medical Center, where an MRI scan showed a cavernous malformation — a group of abnormal blood vessels — inside Lily’s brain stem had started bleeding.

Lily was transferred to the KP Oakland Medical Center’s pediatric intensive care unit, where she was monitored and treated by Mark Fedor, MD, a pediatric neurosurgeon with The Permanente Medical Group (TPMG). Dr. Fedor performed a surgery to clear out the bleeding section.

Lily Elliott at the Taylor Swift concert

Lily Elliott at the Taylor Swift concert

Lily’s mother, Julie Elliott, described Dr. Fedor as “the man with the magic hands.”

“Dr. Fedor was so calm and helpful,” Ms. Elliott said. “He explained everything to us thoroughly as we asked the same questions several times.”

“I approach every patient with patience and an attentive listening ear,” Dr. Fedor said.

When Dr. Fedor first heard about Lily’s worry about not making the concert, he, too, had doubts she could attend. But he didn’t show it, and he was glad to witness the speediness of Lily’s recovery.

“That concert was Lily’s motivation to get better, and I wanted to keep that hope in her,” Dr. Fedor said.

“We’re gonna make this happen”

Lily and her mother said they are grateful to Lily’s doctors and rehabilitation therapists for helping her heal. They could sense that the care team was doing everything they could to help her attend Taylor Swift’s concert.

“It was a very stressful and emotional time,” Ms. Elliott said. “We are so thankful to Lily’s entire care team of doctors, nurses, and therapists. They were incredibly supportive and encouraging, and helped us feel reassured that she was in good hands.”

One of Lily’s doctors, Megan Frantz, MD, a TPMG physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at the KP Vallejo Medical Center, contacted Levi’s Stadium to make sure Lily got the necessary accommodations, including wheelchair access and transportation to her seat, to be able to safely attend the concert. 

“We help our patients get back to the life they’ve been living,” Dr. Frantz said. “With Lily, I said to the care team: ‘We’re gonna make this happen for her, and we’ll figure it out.’”

Ongoing recovery

After the surgery, Lily spent two weeks at the Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Center in Vallejo, where she underwent intensive speech, occupational, and physical therapy under the supervision of Dr. Frantz.

Today, Lily’s scans look clear. She is still in physical therapy with hopes of getting back to playing soccer again.

To show her appreciation, Lily hand-made individualized thank-you notes for everyone on her care teams in Oakland and Vallejo. She made a special friendship bracelet for Dr. Frantz, who placed it in her office as a reminder of why she works in health care.

“It’s been awesome to see how far Lily has come in her recovery,” Dr. Frantz said. “It’s really a privilege to get this opportunity to help and connect with patients during such a challenging and emotional time in their life.”

After her care experience, Lily is now inspired to consider nursing as a future career.

“Everyone on my care team was so positive and committed to help me see Taylor Swift,” Lily said. “I can’t imagine having gone through this experience without them.”

This article originally appeared on MyKP.