Below is a transcript of a speech given by wish mom Carmen at the Make-A-Wish Oregon’s Community Partners Reception on August 24, 2016. Republished with permission.
My name is Carmen and that little guy is Camden, our wish kid. I am married to an amazing man named Tim, and Camden has two big sisters named Kindyl and Hadley. If you saw a family picture of us, you would have no idea about the joys and struggles our family has endured since the moment Camden was born. I often hear things like “I had no idea,” “he doesn’t even look sick.”
Camden was born in kidney failure and went on dialysis at five days old. He had 12 surgeries in the first two weeks of his life. During one of those surgeries, he actually coded on the table. One of his doctors dubbed him “titanium baby” because he refused to give in to his disease.
He came home from the NICU after two months and we ran him on dialysis in our home every night until one month before his second birthday when I had the honor and privilege of being his kidney donor.
Four weeks after his transplant, Camden went into rejection. He was more unstable the first year after transplant than he ever was on dialysis. With major medical intervention, his team at OHSU was able to stop the rejection, but his kidney was severely damaged and his nephrologist figures he is now in chronic kidney disease stage 3. He will need another kidney transplant in the future.
Camden’s two big sisters have walked this walk with him. They’ve held his hand during blood draws and blown bubbles for him while he was stuck to a dialysis machine in the hospital. His dad has held him down with love and strength during IV starts and made many midnight trips to the ER.
We’ve taken turns holding him in our arms in the middle of the night as he was attached to feeding pumps and a dialysis machine and had to give him over to surgeons countless times.
Camden has a huge heart and is full of life and courage. He has never let his disease stop him or hold him back from anything. He is a resilient, feisty and funny little dude who really loves to be the center of attention.
Camden was 3-and-a-half when his Make-A-Wish volunteer wish granters came to our home to learn about his wish. They asked him three questions: what he’d wish to have, who he’d wish to meet, and where he’d wish to go. And my hilarious little man answered a green rubber ducky, his mom and the park. Easiest wish ever, right?
With the help of his wish team, some encouragement from his sisters and a tour of his room, Camden wished to go to Walt Disney World. In April 2015, filled with excitement, we hopped on a plane to Florida. It was Camden’s first plane ride. You would have thought his wish was granted then and there.
We stayed at Give Kids the World Village, which seriously was a dream come true for my kiddos - from the rides and never-ending ice cream to the gorgeous pool - it was incredible.
We visited the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Universal Studios and even saw a Medieval Times show. We definitely made the most of every minute of Camden’s wish trip.
My kids were still pretty Frozen crazy at the time, so Camden got to meet Elsa and Anna and so many other Disney characters— he thoroughly enjoyed all the princesses - not that that would be a surprise: he’s a total flirt and loves older women.
A Celebration of Life
We had the joy of celebrating Camden’s 4th birthday at the Magic Kingdom. We watched the electrical parade and saw the fireworks above Cinderella’s castle. I will never forget Camden’s awe and excitement as he exclaimed “This is all for me! This is for my wish birthday!”
Camden’s wish trip really was a celebration of his life, his courage and his fight. The carefree fun and excitement our entire family got to experience during that week is something I will be forever grateful for. His trip wasn’t just for him - it was also about his sisters who continue to fight this fight with him and for us as his parents to let down our guard and feel all the joy this little fighter has brought in to our lives. Camden’s wish trip was absolutely unforgettable. He really is a super hero who will fight his disease for the rest of his life, and we are so grateful to Make-A-Wish for making Camden’s wish come true!