For the kids, it was about being a regular kid – not one with a medical condition. For families, this was about watching that joy and bonding with others.
The Nephrology practice picnic, recently held at Valley Children’s, was for patients on dialysis, those with chronic kidney disease nearing dialysis and transplant patients. The event, sponsored by Valley Children’s Nephrology team, the Hospital and other sponsors, was to show patients and their families a good time, said Dr. Sahar Barayan, Nephrology medical director.
“This is a day where we don’t talk about their health and we don’t talk about their labs,” she said. “We are all here to have fun.”
Families attending the picnic realize they aren’t alone.
“Here the kids and families can meet each other and patients on dialysis can see how well the patients with transplants are doing,” Dr. Barayan said.
There were booths for face painting, manicures, a baseball toss and card tricks. There also were visits from superheroes and the Hospital’s mascot, George.
Getting her fingers polished at the manicure booth, transplant recipient Melody, 3, was hugged by her doctor, Julia Tzeng. Melody was 3 weeks old when she was diagnosed at Valley Children’s with congenital nephrotic syndrome – both her kidneys were unable to process protein.
Melody, who had appointments almost every week since her diagnosis, remained healthy until last year when she went on dialysis to prepare for transplant, said her mother, Nikole Gallardo.
Melody got her kidney transplant Christmas Eve and after about a month of recovery, she was a different child, Nikole said.
“Her energy level is through the roof and she can eat what she wants,” Nikole said. “She will be on medications the rest of her life, but that’s normal to her.”
Now, Melody keeps up with her cousins, she played tee-ball this spring and starts preschool in the fall.
“Valley Children’s has been like our second family, like our second home,” Nikole said.