Doctor’s suggestion results in revealing singer’s talent

Leia Schwartz gets the kids involved in the sing-along.

Leia Schwartz, the 15-yearold Palmetto Bay resident known for her health-related community service projects, also is becoming known for her remarkable singing talent, discovered as a result of a recommendation of the doctor who has been treating her for asthma.

“I was little when I had a spontaneous pneumothorax or collapsed lung,” Schwartz explained on Tuesday, Dec. 13, during a tree-lighting ceremony at Miami Children’s Hospital where she was a special guest performer.

“I was limited on activities, and Dr. Franco suggested that I take up singing lessons to help expand my lungs, and it turned out that I liked it and I’m actually good at it, so now I love singing.”

Schwartz, who is an outstanding student and athlete at Coral Reef Senior High with an amazing singing voice that is clear and sweet and pitch-perfect, delighted an audience of children, young patients, parents and hospital staff with a selection of holiday songs, sung a cappella. She even got the youngsters involved in a sing-along that seemed to lift their spirits and help them forget their medical problems for a while.

Her pediatric pulmonologist, Dr. Maria E. Franco, who works at Miami Children’s Hospital and has been treating her for a number of years, was touched by the performance and ceremony.

“It is beautiful to see that one of your patients is such a committed person to other children through events in the community,” Dr. Franco said. “To understand what pain means, what suffering means, and she’s willing to give back because she’s been through a lot.

“To see this coming from her is very emotional, not only to me but to the families, and to see all the children enjoying her, another young voice — a spectacular voice — to see that she can sing and make everybody happy, it’s beautiful, it’s wonderful and it makes me feel very happy to be her doctor.”

Also attending the tree lighting ceremony outside the MCH main lobby were Rev. Ryan Ayers who spoke about Christmas and Kwanzaa, Rabbi Mark Kram who discussed the tradition of Hanukkah, MCH executive vice president and chief operating officer Martha McGill, and Leia’s parents, Laura and David Schwartz.

Leia said she appreciates all that Dr. Franco has done for her over the years, making so many of her interests possible.

“She’s helped me get much healthier throughout my life,” Schwartz said, adding with a chuckle, “When I’m older I want to be a singing doctor who plays in celebrity golf tournaments.”

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