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Burbank girl, waiting patiently for new kidneys, selected to be face of hospital’s fundraising campaign

Burbank girl, waiting patiently for new kidneys, selected to be face of hospital’s fundraising campaign
Kairi Ramirez, 11, of Burbank, awaits for a kidney and liver transplant at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Children's Hospital Los Angeles)

There is one thing that Kairi Ramirez misses the most, and that’s being able to splash around in her pool.

For just over two years, Kairi, an 11-year-old girl from Burbank, hasn’t been able to set foot in the water because she has a type of chronic kidney disease her doctors can’t quite diagnose.

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Despite not being able to swim, Kairi said she’s just waiting for her physicians at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to get her a pair of new kidneys and a liver.

“I don’t really care if there’s a cure. I just want a transplant,” she said, with a giggle.

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This month marks Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ fourth annual Make March Matter campaign, with its goal to help children like Kairi — one of two patients at the hospital featured in the campaign’s materials — get the treatment they need.

It’s a monthlong fundraiser in which participating businesses from around Southern California help raise at least $1 million for the hospital to help fund numerous specialty programs at the pediatric medical center.

“The funds raised during Make March Matter go to the Helping Hands Fund, which is the fund that ensures that we can continue providing the life-saving, critical care we need to provide,” said Dawn Wilcox, vice president of corporate partnerships for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Roxana Martinez, Kairi’s mother, said her daughter’s medical journey started in the fall of 2016, when Kairi went in for her annual check-up and her pediatrician noticed her spleen was swollen.

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After running blood tests, the doctor told them to go to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where Kairi spent three weeks undergoing various tests.

Even after all the testing, no doctors at Children’s Hospital were able to pinpoint what is wrong with Kairi, other than the fact that her kidneys and liver are failing.

“There’s no diagnosis or a cause, so we don’t expect them to have a cure,” Martinez said. “[Kairi’s] gone through so many tests, and they have all come back negative, which is good, but we don’t have an answer. It’s been frustrating, and we’re so anxious every time they run another test.”

Kairi goes to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles three times a week to undergo dialysis.

Before her daughter’s diagnosis, Martinez said Kairi would spend countless hours in the pool with her entire family, but now she doesn’t have the energy to swim or to play outside. Everyone in their household has agreed not to swim out of respect for Kairi while she awaits her transplants.

Regardless of all the changes, Martinez said Kairi doesn’t complain much.

“That’s what I admire about her,” she said. “She’s the bravest kid ever.”

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Kairi has found other ways to occupy her time while the pool is off limits. She said she enjoys writing, drawing and making YouTube videos, and she’s making plans to go swimming in the future.

“I just like getting wet and diving in the deep end of the pool and touching the floor,” Kairi said.

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