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Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh's Annual Summer Camp For Transplant Recipients - Just What the Doctor Ordered

For scores of young transplant recipients from across the country, attending Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh's annual summer camp is not only a rite of passage, but an important part of the healing process as well.

Camp Chihopi is a summer camp organized by Children's Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation for young patients ages 7 to 15 who have received a liver and/or intestinal transplant. It provides them a fun environment where they can adapt to their new routines and medical care while taking steps toward a normal childhood.

This year, the 12th annual Camp Chihopi will take place from Friday, Aug. 11 - Monday, Aug. 14, 2006, at Emma Kaufmann Camp on Cheat Lake near Morgantown, WV. Camp Chihopi, short for Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, was created in 1995 by Children's Liver and Intestine Transplant Team.

"We encourage our transplant recipients to attend the camp because we consider it a vital part of the healing process," said Beverly Kosmach-Park, MSN, CRNP, camp director and a clinical nurse specialist at Children's. "A child's emotional and psychological needs are just as important as his or her medical needs, and Camp Chihopi gives these children a chance to feel just like every other kid who attends a summer camp. The only difference is that at Camp Chihopi, they can talk with their peers about having a transplant and find friends with common experiences."

More than 70 kids from across the United States attend this camp every year to swim, do crafts, build campfires and roast marshmallows, tackle the obstacle course, ride horses and play sports. Most importantly, kids also get to share their stories with other children who have had similar medical experiences. Furthermore, counselors are themselves transplant recipients. In 2002, Children's began a Counselor in Training Program, encouraging teenage transplant recipients to become counselors and role models for younger campers. This year, all but two of the counselors and assistant counselors are transplant recipients.

"For most of their lives, these children have been sick and may have felt different from their peers because of that," said George Mazariegos, MD, the camp's medical director and director of pediatric transplantation at Children's and the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute. "Camp Chihopi is fun for the patients, but it also is medically important to their recovery. It contributes to their development of independence and self-esteem, fosters peer relationships and increases their understanding of their medical experiences."

Camp Chihopi is one example of Children's dedication to providing family-centered care. Children's has not only performed more transplants than any other pediatric transplant center in the world, but also is achieving patient survival rates that are among the highest in the nation.

Learn more about Camp Chihopi.

Learn more about the Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

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

Last Update
May 29, 2008
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Last Update
May 29, 2008