Hear Them Roar: Transplant Recipients Build Confidence and Friendships at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC’s Camp Chihopi

August 7, 2017

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC will host the 23rd year of Camp Chihopi, an annual summer camp for liver and/or intestinal transplant recipients, from August 10 to 13 at Emma Kaufmann Camp near Morgantown, W.Va.

More than 60 pediatric transplant patients will participate in summer activities at this year’s zoo-themed camp. Cabins have fun names like “Sahara Safari,” “Monkey Junction,” and “Coral Reef.” Campers will enjoy swimming, campfires, crafts, horseback riding and other sports while surrounded and supported by others who have experienced similar medical circumstances.

“Camp Chihopi gives kids a chance to build confidence and have fun alongside fellow transplant recipients,” said Beverly Kosmach-Park, director of Camp Chihopi. “It’s amazing to watch the campers bond with each other and with the counselors. At camp, our kids build a network of support and friendship that lasts a lifetime.”

Camp Chihopi helps children manage and adapt to their chronic 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. Children’s Hospital nurses, physician assistants, doctors and volunteers also will be on hand.

“Camp is inspiring and energizing, for kids and staff alike,” said George V. Mazariegos, M.D., chief, pediatric transplantation at Children’s. “Life for transplant patients can be filled with some tough days. Camp is a picture of what we all live for: seeing kids be kids again.”

Children’s has performed more pediatric liver transplants than any other transplant center with outcomes that are among the best in the world. According to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients June 2017 data release, Children’s ranked no. 1 in the United States in the following categories for pediatric liver transplants:

  • One year overall patient and graft survival, 100 percent.
  • One year living-donor patient and graft survival, 100 percent.
  • One year deceased donor graft survival, 100 percent.

Children’s is a leader in pediatric living-donor liver transplants and in liver transplantation as a treatment option for children with metabolic disease. Learn more about our Pediatric Liver Transplant Program.

Additionally, campers and families will participate in a pre-departure family brunch at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 10 at the Rodef Shalom Congregation. Patients and families will hear from Children’s physicians, including Mazariegos, before the campers board buses and depart for camp.

Camp Chihopi has received funding from Direct Energy to support the camp for 2017. Since 2014, Direct Energy has contributed more than $2.8 million to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and contributed more than $44,000 to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

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