The Transplant Games of America recently came to San Diego, honoring those who gave the selfless gift of life and celebrating patients. Held every two years, this was the first time the event happened on the West Coast.
Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego patients and families joined team members to make a strong appearance at the event. The five-day celebration began with a parade along the San Diego waterfront, followed by competitions across a number of sports featuring transplant donors and recipients of all ages. The goal of the Games is to celebrate incredible accomplishments in transplant care and encourage all to consider donation.
With more than 2,000 kids on the transplant waitlist around the country, Senior Vice President and Chief External Affairs Officer at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and Executive Director, Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation, Steve Jennings, celebrated the clinical care team that makes it all possible at Rady Children’s.
“We have a robust transplant program and I want to give a shout-out to our incredible transplant team,” Jennings said. “These are amazing, committed individuals who are just doing phenomenal work. For us, we’ve done 50 heart transplants since 2015. We recently did a first-of-its-kind kidney and heart transplant in San Diego. We’ve done almost 200 kidney transplants over the last few years. At Rady Children’s, our team knows this care is essential to this community. I am proud to say we are here to meet that need.”
Rady Children’s is regularly ranked among the country’s top pediatric programs. In fact, U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Rady Children’s cardiology and heart surgery program No. 11. These rankings help families of children with rare or life-threatening illnesses find the best medical care available. And it is our team that provides this high level of care to our patients and families every day. This best-in-class team includes pediatric cardiologists, heart surgeons, nurses, geneticists, psychiatrists, neurologists, pharmacists, social workers and child life specialists, all with expertise in pediatric medicine.
It’s because of these incredible team members that patients, like Nehemiah “Nemo” Maldonado, have a new lease on life. The teen was the first to ever receive a heart and kidney transplant within days of each other at Rady Children’s. Nemo was an active participant at the recent games and celebrated the team that got him there, as well as the donor who saved his life. Nemo described his health journey and ultimate arrival in San Diego to Kite Insights recently, sharing that he was confused but felt that he was in good hands thanks to the team at Rady Children’s.
“I couldn’t move my neck. I couldn’t talk or move at all; I was in a bed paralyzed and didn’t know what to do,” Nemo said. “Today, I appreciate everything everyone has done for me.”
Read more about Nemo’s story, here.
“This need is so critical for patients, just like Nemo,” Jennings said. “Rady Children’s wants to participate in this critical work and highlight what we’re doing here in San Diego, and how we get that done. And that’s through our team. We couldn’t do it without them.”