In July 2011, 20 children attended the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois’ (NKFI) annual Kidney Camp, a free week-long camp for kids ages 7 to 15 with chronic kidney disease. However, the week was cut short for three of the campers when their parents received the urgent call that they had all been waiting for: organs had become available for their children.
Fourteen-year-old Justice Diamond, from the Southside of Chicago, was one of the three children rushed from Kidney Camp to a transplant center to receive his kidney transplant. He was at camp for less than five hours before his mother, Spring, called with the incredible news. Diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure as a result of systemic lupus, Justice and his family had been waiting since April 2010 for the call that an organ was available. His mother was told that they had until midnight to get him to Children’s Memorial Hospital, so a nurse helping with Kidney Camp drove Justice half way back to Chicago to meet his mother.
Now that he has received his transplant, Justice will no longer have to undergo daily dialysis treatments. “He’s very happy and looking forward to a lot of things that he’ll be able to do now, like play soccer,” said Spring. “He was part of a soccer team before and when he went into kidney failure, he had to stop playing.”
When another camper was asked how she felt about Justice and the two others leaving to get their transplants, she said, “I’m happy for them, but I still wish it was me.”
The NKFI’s Kidney Camp offers children with kidney disease or a transplant the opportunity to get the traditional summer camp experience while still having trained medical professionals nearby to help with administering medications and dialysis or to assist with any emergencies. The camp is free for kids to attend, and activities include swimming, boating, horseback riding and arts and crafts. Last year the kids even got to take part in a Harry Potter day where campers dressed up as their favorite characters and got to play Quidditch on the soccer fields.
Right now in the U.S. more than 859 children are waiting for life-saving organ transplants.