VALHALLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Being an ambassador is a big job for a young girl.
But 8-year-old Camryn Kellam has proved that she’s pretty much up to any challenge, including beating back sickle cell disease, and a rare syndrome affecting her brain, all during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Tuesday.READ MORE: NYC Teacher, Principal Unions Warn Of School Staffing Shortages When Vaccine Mandate Takes Effect; De Blasio Says Substitutes Standing By
Camryn is a familiar face to the staff at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. She was greeted with big hugs from people who supervised her care for weeks at a time in 2020.
“It was a hard, hard year, for all of us, but especially for me,” Camryn said.
Indeed. She was living with sickle cell blood disease and a rare brain artery issue known as Moyamoya disease.
As the pandemic raged in 2020, Camryn received a stem cell transplant. The donor was her sister, Skylar. It followed chemotherapy that basically shut down Camryn’s immune system.
“Which was extremely scary during a pandemic to literally put your child in a position where they would have no immune system at all,” said April Kellam, Camryn’s mother.
“It was different. It was something I never imagined that I ever would do before,” Camryn said.READ MORE: Understaffing At Nursing Homes Leaves Residents Vulnerable Amid Pandemic, Now Vaccine Mandate Could Make It Worse
April and father Chris Kellam said their little girl took it all in stride.
“She didn’t get down. She’s strong. She’s a warrior,” Chris said.
And now, she’s something else, a Maria Fareri ambassador for this year’s “Go the Distance” fundraiser.
“She’s one of the bravest kids we’ve met here at the hospital. She handled everything about the transplant process with such grace,” said child life specialist Lauren Nittoli.
Camryn showed grace and gratitude.
“I’m gonna give a big ‘thank you’ to all the doctors who have helped and spread kindness and energy, and just helped me heal,” Camryn said.
At 8 years old, Camryn is every bit the picture of happiness and health.MORE NEWS: CDC Recommending Pfizer Booster Shots For Seniors, Adults With Underlying Medical Conditions, Adults At Greater Risk Of Exposure At Work
The stem cell transplant was an amazing success. The family said Camryn’s sickle cell disease is in remission, the brain artery syndrome has not progressed, and her immune system is coming back strong.