UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Camp Chihopi Allows Pediatric Transplant Recipients to Build Long-Lasting Friendships

August 6, 2018

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh will host the 24th year of Camp Chihopi, an annual summer camp for liver and intestinal transplant recipients. The camp will run from Aug. 9 to 12 at Emma Kaufmann Camp near Morgantown, West Virginia.

More than 60 pediatric transplant recipients, ages 7 to 15, will participate in summer activities at this year’s Dr. Seuss-themed camp, with the popular Saturday night event being called Seussapalooza. Campers will enjoy water sports, crafts, campfires, horseback riding and other activities while interacting with others who have experienced a similar medical journey.

“Camp Chihopi provides a unique opportunity for transplant recipients to share their medical experiences and find support in talking to their peers – all in the setting of a summer camp,” said Beverly Kosmach-Park, director of Camp Chihopi. “The camp has led to many strong friendships throughout the years among this group of youth, and they frequently acknowledge the support they get from others who truly understand their lives.”

Camp Chihopi helps kids manage and adapt to their conditions while building self-esteem and strong friendships. More than 40 staff members, many of whom are transplant recipients themselves, will assist during the week. UPMC Children’s Hospital nurses, physician assistants, doctors and community volunteers also will be on hand.

One of the camp counselors, Madison Rose from Roanoke, Virginia, had her first liver transplant seven years ago and her second liver transplant eight months ago. Rose says that Camp Chihopi is a place where she can look around and feel “normal” in a group.

“Camp Chihopi is important to me because it is where I have met other people that have gone through the same thing as me,” said Rose, age 20. “I also think it is important for the young campers to see the counselors and assistant counselors who received a transplant and are doing so well in life. We are the example – showing them that they can still have those dreams and goals in their future to reach for.”

Campers and families will participate in the pre-departure Chihopi Family Brunch with more than 150 parents and family members at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 9 at the Rodef Shalom Congregation. Patients and families will hear from UPMC Children’s physicians and staff before the campers board buses and depart for camp.

The Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation at UPMC Children’s is the nation’s first pediatric transplant center and has been at the forefront of pediatric transplantation for more than three decades. As an international leader, UPMC Children’s transplant surgeons have performed more than 3,500 organ transplants, more than any other pediatric transplant center, and have among the best patient outcomes in the world.

UPMC Children’s has performed more than 1,800 pediatric liver transplants since the program’s inception in 1981, more than any other center in the U.S., which includes more than 150 living-donor liver transplants.

Media interested in covering the family brunch or camp during the week should contact Andrea Kunicky at 412-692-6254 or andrea.kunicky@chp.edu.

Contact: Andrea Kunicky
Office: 412-692-6254
Mobile: 412-439-5264
E-mail: Andrea.Kunicky@chp.edu

Contact: Marc Lukasiak
Office: 412-692-7919
Mobile: 412-721-2120
E-mail: Marc.Lukasiak@chp.edu