Local toddler whose family fought for ‘right to try’ medication dies

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — A Lakewood boy who was allowed to try an experimental drug after the Problem Solvers got involved has died from his brain tumor.  Elijah Gonzalez passed away Jan. 19 in his fathers’ arms with his mother and baby brother by his side.

Elijah would have turned 2 years old on Friday, Jan. 25. FOX31 featured Elijah’s story in mid-December after his parents Cesar and Lee Gonzalez went public with their efforts to allow their son to try an experimental cancer drug under the nation’s newly passed “Right to Try” law. The measure, signed by President Donald Trump last year, is supposed to make it easier to provide non-FDA approved drugs to those who might otherwise die. 

Cesar and Lee told the Problem Solvers their son was the poster child for whom the law was intended, but they were still having no luck getting the pharmaceutical company Epizyme to provide its promising drug Tazemetostat to Elijah.

Credit: Melissa Kroll Photography

On the day FOX31 reached out to Epizyme, the pharmaceutical company agreed to make the drug available. Elijah’s parents were told it might be too late and their son might not live to Christmas, but he fought until this past Sunday.

Lee told FOX31 she and her husband donated Elijah’s tumor to Children’s Hospital Colorado, where doctors are using it to test new drugs in the hope of helping others in the future.

There will be a bilingual Catholic service for Elijah on Friday, Jan. 25th at 10 a.m. at St. Cajetan Church, 299 South Raleigh Street, Denver, 80219. Elijah’s celebration of life services will be held at Bear Valley Church in Lakewood on Saturday Jan. 26th at 10:27 a.m., the time he was born.

Elijah’s family is asking people to wear the color blue or their best birthday party clothes to honor Elijah. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting contributions to a GoFundMe that has been established to help pay for Elijah’s services and a memorial tree.

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