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New Heights of Courage
Poems by Teens from the Youth Transplant Kamp 2002
Scaling 25-foot poles on the ropes course at Camp Kostopolus wasn't the only challenge at last summer's Youth Transplant Kamp, YTK 2002. Twenty teenagers who've had biopsies, surgeries, transplants, and transfusions were encouraged to try out a part of their bodies that, for many, has been ignored: their voice. During daily poetry workshops, they wrote about their experiences inside and outside hospitals, described by one 12-year-old girl as "miracle-like."
Most teens at the camp, sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation of Utah, are patients at University of Utah Hospital and Primary Children's Medical Center. The poetry workshop was sponsored by the Utah Arts Council, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was taught by Susan Sample, editor of Health Sciences Report.
in my Mustang GT 500.
I pull up to the line
and rev my engine.
I smell the gas.
I take off.
I get going faster
and pull ahead.
The rpm's start to red line.
I hit the nose
and push back in the seat.
Then I look down at the speed
and I see that I busted the cable.
I win the race.
Dennis Brewer, 19, kidney transplant, Ogden, UT
my heart beating as I enter the room,
not knowing if I will ever wake up
or live, as they move me to the OR table.
Then they strap me down.
They put a mask on me.
I smell the gas enter the mask.
I taste the plastic of the mask.
I start to spasm.
When I wake up,
I see my father, knowing
I'm real glad to see him.
Marcus Brennan, 15, kidney transplant, Midland, TX
thing I saw at camp
was how happy people are,
even when they go through hard times
and life sucks.
They still enjoy it.
Wes Hill, 16, heart transplant, Salt Lake City, UT
It kind of has a rough taste to it.
It's tough to tear with your teeth.
Onions, carrots, green pepper go good with it.
It's so good I feel stuffed after.
JD Roberts, 16, kidney transplant, Provo, UT
my first liver biopsy.
I was so scared.
I was kind of shaky,
my whole body was.
I didn't know what to do.
I was sitting on the hospital bed.
It was uncomfortable,
that stupid mattress.
My nurses were so cool after.
When my parents left,
and my nurses,
I moved my bed around.
I put it in a different spot,
kind of sideways.
And then my nurse came in.
She got mad at me.
But it did not bother me.
Sarah Ogden, 17, liver transplant, Salem, UT
when I was little,
because they made good money
and they saved lives.
Now that I have had my one and a half years' experience
of doctors, nurses and needles,
I never want to see doctors again.
Doctors and nurses have done too many evil
unkind procedures that scarred me for life.
All they were doing
was trying to save my life,
even though it hurt me.
Sometimes the doctors and nurses
were very caring and chose to do
a different procedure
that was less painful.
Nicole Wardell, 14, kidney transplant, Cody, WY
amazing thing at camp
is seeing all the people
who have to take pills.
Some of the pills are small
and some are really big.
The pills really stink,
but we have to take them
so we can live.
Lacy Hyde, 13, kidney transplant, Burley, ID
in my '98 taupe Ford Escort car,
I'm listening to the radio.
I am sick of listening to the commercial,
so I change the station
when I hear this song.
I'm stopped at a red light.
I turn up the volume.
I hear the latest hip-hop song.
I notice the lyrics.
I listen to the song when I realize
that I live in a bubble.
They talk about gangs, drugs, sex, abuse, violence
and other bad things.
I feel scared.
Jennifer Jensen, 17, liver transplant, Layton, UT
I bet they would meow.
They might have legs and arms.
They would definitely be purple,
no total doubt.
They would eat cotton candy,
I know this could never happen,
but it's sweet to dream.
Brea Poole, 12, liver transplant, Pocatello, ID
and had a stroke again,
I'd have five things to remember.
First, I'd have to try and remember friends
and family names.
Mother. Father. Brother. Friend.
I had a hard time thinking of things.
Things such as people, family, food
or even other things.
Then I had to learn to read.
A lot of years later, I'm still going strong.
Last, I had to take a lot of pills
And my mother still has to take me places,
because I cannot drive.
It is hard.
Amber Weaver, 18, kidney transplant, La Verkin, UT
in the candy store.
"I can't help notice
your beautiful mohawk
with pink and green,
and your leather jacket
with its misfit?."
Austin Chirillo, 12, kidney transplant, Salt Lake City, UT
for the first three years of my life.
I had to endure double hernia surgery.
I was born with spina bifida and scoliosis.
I don't remember anything,
so I rely on stories told to me by my mom.
Mike Aaron, 17, kidney transplant, South Jordan, UT
I get this eerie
but yet warm sensation.
In the morning, it's cold and quiet.
The nurse calls me into same-day surgery.
A tingle spreads throughout my body
as I enter the room.
It's like a wave of ice cold water hit me,
or a thousand ghosts just passed by.
They put me on the bed.
It's hot, like it came shooting
top speed into the sky from a volcano.
But the pillow is even hotter.
I'm no longer cold.
That fluffy white pillow is like a cloud in heaven.
This is one of the very few things
I like about the hospital.
Clark Jackson, 12, heart transplant, Sandy, UT
amazing thing I've seen
is people's scars.
Some look thin,
some feel hard.
The cool thing is
you can tell what transplant
people have had
by the shape:
kidneys go like J's.
Livers look like an upside-down Y.
Hearts are just up and down.
Some, like mine, are an inch wide.
Mine doesn't look like any one else's.
It's a double.
Dana Prevedel, 13, liver and small bowel transplant, Roosevelt, UT
We always welcome your comments about the magazine. Address letters to: Editor, Health Sciences Report, Office of Public Affairs, University of Utah Health Sciences Center, 50 North Medical Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84132. FAX: (801) 585-5188. E-mail: Susan.Sample@hsc.utah.edu.