Meet Cameryn, Age 8

At nine days old, Cameryn went into kidney failure. A fast-thinking doctor transferred her to the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH) Level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). There, she was given dialysis and gradually got strong enough to go home. She was almost three months old by then.

However, the challenges facing Cameryn and her family were just beginning. While her parents and other family caregivers could give her peritoneal dialysis at home, the port to her abdomen eventually slipped out of place, making this impossible. Around the time she reached her first birthday, she was prescribed kidney medications. At one point, she was taking 16 of them.

Despite the medicine, Cameryn’s kidney function continued to drop, and it was clear that she needed a kidney transplant. Both of her parents tested as organ matches, and they decided that her mom would become Cameryn’s kidney donor.

All Cameryn had to do now was grow big enough to withstand the transplant surgery. However, gaining weight had always been a challenge. Her kidney condition made food taste like cardboard and she constantly felt like she had a stomach bug. When she did manage to eat, her food would come right back up.

Thankfully, after undergoing reflux surgery and having a feeding tube put in, Cameryn started putting on weight. At age 3, she was finally ready for a transplant.

“Parents are understandably scared when their children need an organ transplant, but they can take comfort that UMCH has a lot of experience in this area,” says Tamara Hill, CRNP, DNP, a nurse practitioner who manages pediatric patients who require a kidney transplant. “The University of Maryland is known for its well-coordinated transplant team, and they have completed hundreds of these procedures for children with extremely high success rates,” continues Dr. Hill.  

After receiving her mom’s kidney, within days Cameryn learned how to eat. Immediately feeling stronger, she started walking and talking as any other toddler would. By three-and-a-half, she was eating completely by mouth and no longer needed a feeding tube.

While having a donor kidney means Cameryn will need to always take immunosuppressant medications, she tolerates them well. Even though these medicines can weaken the immune system, she is able to attend public school on the Eastern Shore because the small class sizes expose her to fewer germs.

Today, Cameryn visits UM Shore Medical Center each month for routine blood work and makes trips to UMCH every three months to make sure her kidney still works as it should. Despite, or perhaps because of, all of the medical care she experienced at a young age, Cameryn wants to become a doctor.

Are you looking for a pediatric specialist? Call the UM Children’s Hospital at 410-328-5887.