Every parent wishes all the opportunities in the world for their children. However, when your child is diagnosed with a life-altering medical condition, or undergoes a solid organ transplant surgery, the list of opportunities begins to shrink.
This was true for Camper Delilah. Born with a congenital liver disorder, Delilah faced an uphill battle as she was placed on life support awaiting a liver transplant. Her family knew there was a strong possibility she might not survive. After 5 long months of waiting, a donor match was finally found, and Delilah received the gift of life with her new liver.
Delilah’s new liver brought many changes to her daily activities and required her to miss many opportunities that other children had. At 9 years old, her parents noticed she began experiencing anxiety and mild depression. During a routine visit with her transplant team at Seattle Children’s Hospital, a nurse told Delilah’s mother, Tabitha, about Camp Korey. But her parents had always thought traditional summer camp wasn’t an option for Delilah, because of the daily medical care and social-emotional support she needs.
Camp Korey was founded to provide medically safe camp experiences to campers like Delilah. With the recommendation of their nurse, Delilah’s family decided to attend their first Camp Korey event – a Solid Organ Transplant Family Weekend. “We had no idea what to expect, but were very excited to give Delilah the opportunity to be around other children who have had a transplant and were going through similar experiences,” said Tabitha.
“The entire weekend was full of fun and new friendships. My husband and I never realized how much we also needed to connect with parents who have children who have had a transplant. We knew right then and there that Camp Korey was a place of love and acceptance. We never expected our family to walk away from the weekend so changed.”
A few months later, Delilah attended her first Summer Camp session – alone. “When you have a child with a serious life threating medical condition, it is very hard to trust anyone else to take care of your child’s medical needs,” said Tabitha. “The Medical Team at Camp Korey was so very prepared and organized with all of Delilah’s medications and medical plans I knew she’d be safe. Before Camp Korey, I had never felt safe leaving her somewhere without me.”
“Solid organ transplant week is one of the most medically-involved weeks of the summer,” says Camp Korey Medical Director, Dr. Shannon Staples. “The children are considered immunocompromised at all times. Their diets are heavily scrutinized and screened, and all medications must be given on a very regimented schedule.
When Tabitha arrived at camp to pick up Delilah, she watched her from a distance and could immediately see the profound difference. Delilah was laughing and socializing, with her hair in pigtails and her t-shirt tied to the side. She looked a little older, and a lot more confident!
Delilah’s family is beyond grateful for donors who make Camp Korey possible. Although Delilah was given the gift of life through her transplant, she has a compromised immune system and will always face medical challenges. With the many unknowns of COVID-19, she has not been able to leave her house much since March.
Delilah and her family were thrilled to safely participate in Virtual Summer Camp and a Virtual Family Weekend despite the pandemic. “We were all blown away by the amount of time and effort put in by the Camp Korey staff and volunteers to still bring the joy of camp to us in the most difficult of times,” said Tabitha. “Camp Korey always knows how to make Delilah smile!”