Summer camp lets young transplant patients have family fun

July 24, 2013 2:07:20 PM PDT
A Montgomery County summer camp is giving young transplant patients a place to have fun while getting support from each other, and their siblings.

For the past eight years, Camp Jeremy and the Gift of Life Donor program have provided children who've undergone life-saving organ transplants time to share the outdoors at no cost to the campers:

This week 12 transplant recipients and 7 of their siblings are on the grounds of the Mermaid Country Day Camp enjoying all sorts of activities.

15-year-old Gabriel Clark has been coming to Camp Jeremy for nine years.

He received a new kidney when he was a toddler.

"Because of that, I've gotten a lot stronger," Gabriel said.

Camp Jeremy also invites campers' siblings to share this experience. We were there for Gabriel's younger brother, Benaiah's second visit.

"They've been through a transplant journey themselves; families are affected, as well, but here they get to spend time outside the hospital with their brothers and sisters and just be regular kids. I think every kid deserves that," Gift of Life counselor Partice Bendig said.

6-year-old Cale Bundy joined her older sister Cora, at camp for the first time this year. Cora underwent a liver transplant as an infant.

"I go to CHOP hospital every 3 months and now I'm going to be going more often because I'm starting a research study to come off my medication," Cora said.

The inspiration for this camp was the brother of Josh Clemens, who was a Mermaid Camp Counselor after receiving a heart transplant at age 8. He died at 23.

Josh says this has been a way to commemorate Jeremy's life.

"After he passed away in 2003, we decided to set up something in his memory. This is our 9th year doing this with the help of Mermaid Country Day Camp and the Gift of Life, this year we've had a great turnout," Clemens said.


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