A new beginning

Sometimes the premature end of a life can inspire actions by loved ones to ensure that the life was not wasted. Such is the case for Gabriel Summerhill, who died of complications caused by hydrocephalus on Aug. 23, 2005. His mother, Leilani Schweitzer of Reno, launched a website called Gabriel’s Life, www.gabrielslife.org.

The website features stories from people affected by hydrocephalus, a condition in which cerebrospinal fluid collects in the ventricles of the brain causing swelling. The site allows the creation of blogs and has a forum for people to create community and ask questions of others knowledgeable about the disease. The forum includes such topics as “communicating hydro,” “eye surgery,” “adjustments on shunt settings” and “health insurance.”

“The site gives people a way to share their stories,” said Schweitzer. “Lots of doctors encourage their clients to participate in this sort of thing. This is the first time a nonprofit has put together all the tools for all the people who are dealing with any medical issue. It’s a new way for people to connect with each other and put things in context.”

Gabriel Summerhill’s story, “Alien Odyssey” was told in this newspaper by his father, Brad Summerhill, on Nov. 18, 2004. Gabriel would have been 4 years old on Dec. 22.