From the time she was 2 years old, kidney failure has kept Shirlene Hopper, 15, from feeling well enough to play with children outside her home.
Now, thanks to a kidney donated by her father, Dave Hopper, Shir-lene is able to get out and play. And that's just what she did Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Truck Show Kidney Camp, benefiting the National Kidney Foundation of Utah, at Aspen Grove.Dialysis and kidney transplant patients from the Intermountain area and their families were treated to time away from doctors and hospitals thanks to a $23,000 donation from the Truck Show, Pride Trucking and the Trucking Committee.
For Shirlene and her seven siblings and parents, that meant a vacation they might never have had the chance to take. "Her transplant two years ago changed our lives," said her mother, Peggy Hopper. "It changed our whole family. It was the first time we could even take a vacation."
Although Shirlene's condition left the family financially ruined because of lack of insurance coverage, the Hoppers say they would do it all again."I've not done much in my life," Dave Hopper said. "But if I never do anything else in my life, I feel my life has been worthwhile."
That was the sentiment of many of the patients at the camp.
Basketball has made life worthwhile for Larie Stewart, who graduated Friday from Mountain View High School. When Stewart, the daughter of David and Charlene Stewart, Orem, made the girls varsity team as the starting center, she couldn't have been happier.
As a junior, Stewart had been diagnosed with chronic renal failure. "I would go to school and come home exhausted. I would sleep, get up and eat, and go to sleep again."
Within a matter of days she was hooked to a portable home catheter and dialysis equipment. By her senior year she had most of her strength back to play ball. But last December her body starting failing again. "I was really, really sick," she said.
Stewart rebounded once more and though she was in the hospital and couldn't play in the finals, she is still wearing a championship ring.
Stewart isn't planning on attending college just yet. She is resting up for an anticipated kidney transplant June 11 at the University of Utah Medical Center.
The idea of the camp is to let families, particularly siblings, mingle with each other and others with similar experiences. "This serves a need of involving families and family members who feel left out," said Pam Grant, pediatric social worker in dialysis and transplants.
One camp attendee, Phillip Robinson, admittedly wishes his family didn't have so much involvement with kidneys.
Robinson, 45, opened the Provo Dialysis Center in 1977 because his father was on dialysis. Shortly after he open the center, Robinson started having his own kidney problems. "It took 10 years before I went on dialysis," he said. "And by 1991 I had my first kidney transplant."
Although the first transplant failed after nine months, Robinson's second transplant has been working much better. And recently his brother, Dr. Paul Robinson, a surgeon at American Fork Hospital, received a kidney transplant from their sister.
For more information about the Truck Show Kidney Camp or the National Kidney Foundation of Utah call 226-5111.