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Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana Grants Selfless Wish of Texas Children’s Hospital Kidney Transplant Patient During National Kidney Month
Bryan, Texas resident Cecilia “Ceci” Drake, 17, uses her one wish to give gifts to other hospitalized children
HOUSTON (April 7, 2022) — After spending much of her 17 years receiving life-saving dialysis care at the nation’s largest children’s hospital, kidney transplant patient Cecilia “Ceci” Drake knew just the wish to request from Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana: “to go on a shopping spree to give back to patients at Texas Children’s Hospital.”
A Katy, Texas native and Bryan, Texas resident, Ceci traveled from her home to the Texas Medical Center — often staying with her grandmother in Katy — three times a week for several years for hours-long dialysis treatments. As a result, she knows firsthand the toys, amenities, and gifts dialysis patients most appreciate while in the hospital. When Make-A-Wish extended Ceci the opportunity to make one wish, she didn’t hesitate to put others first.
“I can remember how boring it could be in the hospital when you didn’t have something to do to help the time pass,” said Ceci, who recently graduated early from high school and hopes to pursue a career as a Child Life Specialist. “I just wanted to give back to the place that over the years became a second home to me, with a very large extended family. I hope that one day I will be able to walk these halls as a Child Life Specialist, and not as a patient, to help the future generations of renal kids learn to live with the day-to-day struggles and emotions of our renal diseases.”
Through the generosity of Make-A-Wish’s Young Leaders Board, a group of 15 young professionals in Houston, Ceci’s wish was funded and brought to life. She recently selected gifts for her fellow patients, including blankets, stuffed animals, coloring books, cars and dolls. She then personally delivered these thoughtful gift bags to all children in the Dialysis Unit and on the 12th floor of Texas Children’s Hospital’s West Tower, bringing much-needed smiles and comfort.
A special patient favorite — Texas Children’s Hospital therapy dog, Pluto, and his owner, Child Life Specialist, Hanna Kuhn — accompanied Ceci on her hospital rounds to distribute the gift bags.
As part of Ceci’s wish, Make-A-Wish also gifted three iPads for patients in Texas Children’s Hospital Dialysis Unit to use for education or entertainment purposes.
Dr. Michael C. Braun, Ceci’s pediatric nephrologist and Chief of the Renal Service at Texas Children’s Hospital; and Professor and Renal Section Chief, Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, diagnosed Ceci with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) when she was 8 years old. FSGS is a rare kidney disorder in which scarring on the organs’ filters prevents the kidneys from properly cleaning patients’ blood, which can lead to kidney damage and failure.
Ceci’s only option — until matching kidneys from a young donor became available — was regular, in-patient dialysis treatments to sustain her life. In 2020, she received the greatest wish and gift of all, a healthy kidney transplant performed by Texas Children’s Hospital surgeon Dr. Nhu Thao Nguyen Galvan, who also serves as Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Abdominal Transplantation at Baylor College of Medicine.
Ceci’s health care team and Make-A-Wish are quick to applaud the truly selfless action of Ceci’s donor family in extending the gift of life to this aspiring young nurse.
“Cecilia is a very special young woman,” said Dr. Braun. “All of us who have had the privilege to help with her medical care have been touched by her generosity of spirit and are inspired by her selflessness.”
Yara Elsayed Guest, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana hopes the impact of Ceci’s wish will continue to be known to the patients she helped. “A wish is one of the most powerful treatment tools for kids battling critical illnesses because it replaces fear with hope, sadness with joy. For Ceci to share the power of her wish with others illustrates the pure love and humanity in her heart,” she said.
Ceci is one of 550 local wish kids who will have their wish granted this year. Make-A-Wish grants wishes to kids ages 2.5 to 18 years who are battling critical illnesses. Wishes are proven to be a positive element of a child’s treatment, and the majority of wish kids live into adulthood, often beating their illness completely.
In recognition of Ceci’s selfless gesture to others, her Texas Children’s Hospital care team and representatives from Make-A-Wish literally rolled out a red carpet for the young honoree, leading into a festively decorated room filled with her applauding friends and family. Leaders from both organizations — including Dr. Daniel Penny, Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at Texas Children’s Hospital, leader of Pediatric Cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine, and board member of Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana — gave brief remarks to thank Ceci for her generosity.
About Texas Children’s Hospital
Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Tower for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, the first hospital devoted to children’s care for communities north of Houston. The organization also created Texas Children’s Health Plan, the nation’s first HMO for children; has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country, Texas Children’s Pediatrics; Texas Children’s Urgent Care clinics that specialize in after-hours care tailored specifically for children; and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.