BLUE BELL, Pa. (CBS) — The gift of life turns to summer fun for a special group of youngsters on the first day of camp out in Montgomery County.
Camp Jeremy is for kids who’ve received the gift of life — many too young to know about the thousands of people who are waiting for life-saving organ transplants, because there aren’t enough donors.
This is the 12th year for the annual program, named after Jeremy Clemens who had a heart transplant when he was eight years old. Clemens died at age 23 from complications of the transplant and would have just celebrated his birthday. His family though wants to celebrate the many happy years he had in between.
“I had a liver transplant when I was 10 months old,” said transplant recipient, Onyi Kenine.
Kenine is now 12. She and the others here at the Blue Bell camp know all about the importance of organ transplants: “Getting a second chance at life,” explained Kenine.
“You survived through something that could have been life threatening,” said another transplant recipient Jackie Gladden.
“They come together and see they’re just like other people,” said Karen Keener of the Gift of Life program.
Keener says transplant patients need medications and some have physical restrictions — the youngsters can sometimes feel left out or different. The camp gives them a chance to share stories and enjoy summer activities together
“We do archery, arts and crafts; swim is a favorite activity; we also go bowling and play tennis,” said Keener.
“It’s all about fun and games — but the sad reality is that 21 people die every day waiting for a transplant.
These kids are the lucky ones.
Gladen has already survived two liver transplants.
When asked why it’s important to be able to hang out with other kids who’ve had transplants?
“It’s kinda like you know what each other have been through. It’s fun to talk about.”