“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” -Gandhi
It is with very heavy hearts we share that Dhillon Jordan Shah of Chapel Hill, NC passed away at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Thursday, July 23, 2015. Dhillon was born on December 6, 2002 in Durham, NC to Deborah Havens Shah and Vijay Kumar Shah, from Chapel Hill, NC.
Dhillon was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a severe congenital heart defect. His 12.5 years were a heroic series of hurdles and milestones, awing and inspiring everyone around him every step along his remarkable journey. In August of 2014 Dhillon and his mother, relocated to the Gift of Life Family House in Philadelphia while he waited for a heart transplant. Prior to that, Dhillon enjoyed 9 years as a very involved student at the Montessori Community School in Durham. During his time at MCS, Dhillon thrived by being around his friends, performing magic tricks in the annual coffee house talent show, and being a part of the MCS community.
When not at school, Dhillon reveled in all things fun and social and could be found perfecting magic tricks and mischievous punch lines, building increasingly complex Lego structures, honing his engineering curiosities by tinkering with tools and building things, planning activities outside of the house with his beloved big sister Serena, attending sporting events and movies with his father, rallying family and close friends to race any remote controlled vehicle, cheering on the Tar Heels, discovering new restaurants and trying new foods, and of course, retreating to perhaps his favorite place -- close to his beautiful mother’s side.
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During his 11 months in Philadelphia, Dhillon embraced his home away from home. He loved exploring the city’s museums, parks, historical sites, and restaurants. He made many good friends while there and enjoyed all that the city had to offer. Dhillon was affectionately called the “Mayor” of the Gift of Life Family House and often helped out at the front desk checking in and welcoming new guests.
Always an adventurer, Dhillon attended sleep-away camp at Victory Junction, a North Carolina camp for children with chronic medical conditions, four times and quickly became popular with the counselors. He was an avid explorer, proudly embraced his dual-culture upbringing, and drew much joy from cruises, vacations, and beach holidays with both sides of his family. Dhillon traveled to over 10 countries and was excitedly making plans for a huge post-transplant gathering for all in Hawaii and a safari in South Africa.
Dhillon’s dynamic personality and the way he carried himself, gave no indication of the immense battle he was fighting. His big irresistible smile was rivaled only by his massive courage and humble bravery. He is survived and deeply missed by his parents, Vijay and Deborah, his number-one fan and champion sister, Serena, six loving Grandparents, (Mukund and Madhu Shah of Lawrenceville, GA; Jim and Beverly Foster of Chapel Hill, NC; Gary and Kuniko Havens of Santa Monica, CA) a loving group of aunts (Susie Rogers of Woodlands, TX; Suzie Havens of Chapel Hill, NC; Parool Shah of Washington, DC; Kiran Shah of Upland, CA; Rima Izem of Washington, DC), uncles (Bert Rogers of Woodlands, TX; Pradip Shah of Upland, CA; Rob McDonald of Washington, DC; Kevin Cohan of Chapel Hill ) and cousins (Rita, John and Maya Marshall of Lake Forest, CA; Ajay Shah of Chicago, IL; Samantha and Max Cohan of Chapel Hill, NC; Elias and Esma McDonald of Washington, DC) on both coasts and in between — along with a global network of devoted family, friends, fellow heart and transplant community members, and followers. He has also left a major void for his three pets, Bella, Zoe, and Toby. The family wishes to thank all of Dhillon’s health care providers for their extraordinary support and care provided to him throughout his life. Dhillon’s presence, influence, inspiration, and loving heart will be profoundly missed.
Dhillon J. Shah's extraordinary life will be celebrated on Sunday, August 30th from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at The Barn, at Fearrington Village. In lieu of flowers or gifts, consider supporting one of Dhillon’s favorite charities: Gift of Life Family House (www.giftoflifefamilyhouse.org), Victory Junction (www.victoryjunction.org), Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (www.chop.edu/giving/ways-to-give), or NC Children's Promise (www.uncchildrens.org/un…/unc-childrens/support/ways-to-give/).
Sunday, August 30th – 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
The Barn at Fearrington Village
2000 Fearrington Village Center
Pittsboro, NC 27312