By Cindy Blackburn, mother of Makenzie Blackburn
My daughter, Makenzie Blackburn, received an intestinal transplant at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC when she was only 16 months old and are happy to say that she celebrated her 10 year post-transplant anniversary this past April.
We reside in Roanoke, VA, and traveled to Pittsburgh at the beginning of the summer for Makenzie’s annual transplant clinic and for her to attend Camp Chihopi, Children’s Hospital’s annual summer camp for liver and/or intestine transplant recipients.
The camp, which was held June 14 to 17, gives patients of Children’s who have had liver and/or intestine transplants a chance to enjoy Emma Kaufmann Camp near Morgantown, W.V. The camp is primarily staffed by older transplant recipients with camp experience as well as Children’s Hospital nurses, physician assistants, doctors, and other community volunteers.
As the kids departed for camp, they were given superheroes capes courtesy of Kiss The Toad Creations, to wear as they board the buses. This organization encourages and recognizes children who are battling a life threatening illness by presenting them with official superheroes capes. The campers also had the chance to display the capes at the annual Camp Party on Sunday night, with a “Super Hero” theme.
Two days after everyone left for camp, we found Makenzie’s costume still at the hotel. She would have been heartbroken if she wasn’t able to wear it for the party. I texted one of the counselors at camp immediately, so she could inform Makenzie that the costume wasn’t there and she may not have it for the dance.
I then received a text at 11:00 p.m. that night on my personal cell phone from Dr. Kyle Soltys, transplant surgeon at the Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation at Children’s Hospital. He came to our hotel, picked up her costume, and took it to her at camp which was two hours away!
Here is a picture of them at the dance together – Makenzie dressed as Wonder Woman and Dr. Soltys dressed as an organ donor, which are the real super heroes for all of these children. He truly understands that it takes way more than medicine to be a doctor.
We are blessed to have him helping us along this journey and will be grateful for all he has given us!