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For Immediate Release

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh's Heart Camp Helps Children with Heart Disease Build Confidence and Friendships

The Dr. Bill Neches Heart Camp for Kids offers children with heart disease the chance to trade doctor's appointments for pool time. The annual camp, co-sponsored by Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and the American Heart Association (AHA), gives kids a test-free, pain-free vacation and the opportunity to interact with nurses and doctors in a non-medical setting.

Heart Camp will be held from Tuesday, June 13, through Saturday, June 17, 2006. Located at Camp Kon-O-Kwee in Fombell, Pa., Heart Camp provides campers between the ages of 8 and 16 the chance to meet, interact, and relate to other children with similar conditions. More than 150 campers from across the United States attend the camp annually. This is the 16th anniversary of Heart Camp.

Heart disease affects approximately 1 percent of all children born in the U.S., yet very few who have heart disease are aware of others with similar problems. As a result, many children with heart conditions often feel isolated. Heart Camp helps children and adolescents with heart disease feel less isolated by introducing them to other children like themselves.

"This camp is designed to help children and young adults with heart disease feel comfortable in their surroundings and help them recognize that they are not alone. The camaraderie that is formed at Heart Camp can be very helpful to their long-term healing and they often develop close and unique friendships." said Bradley B. Keller, MD, Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at Children's. "Heart camp also gives our patients a non-threatening atmosphere where they are more likely to share their own experiences and ask questions that they may have been hesitant to ask in a clinical setting.

Two of the campers' favorite activities are the Ask the Doctor/Nurse and Ask the Counselor sessions. These programs give campers the opportunity to find out more about the people who are caring for them. Campers also have role models in their Heart Camp counselors and junior counselors. All of the junior and adult counselors have heart conditions and most were campers themselves at one time.

"We have a great opportunity here to help show children with heart disease that they can carry on a completely normal life," Dr. Keller said. "Spending time with our counselors who have succeeded in their management of heart disease and who are leading active and productive lives is the most effective way to show campers that they have the same opportunity for a bright future.

Heart Camp is a program of the Heart Center at Children's. The Heart Center cares for infants, children and young adults with all types of heart disease and for adults with congenital heart disease including many who have undergone heart transplants. Susan Miller, MD, and Linda Russo, MD, both Children's cardiologists, serve as Heart Camp Medical Director and Assistant Medical Director, respectively. Keith McIntire, an adult Children's cardiology patient, serves as volunteer director.

In addition to Children's and the AHA, Heart Camp is supported by Pittsburgh Penguins Alumni, the Eric Smoulder Charitable Foundation, the Debbie Schnepp Memorial Golf Classic and Atria's Restaurant and Tavern. For more information about Heart Camp, the Heart Center or Children's, please visit

Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-7919 or 412-692-5016,
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5502 or 412-692-5016,

Last Update
March 5, 2008
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Last Update
March 5, 2008