Kavin Desai, MD

Pediatric Cardiology, Greater Southern Alameda Area

Camp Taylor

“The kids take life more seriously because for them every moment is precious; they live life more fully because they don’t know when it may end.”

What do you say to the mother of a patient who asks you to help create a free camp for children with congenital heart disease? If you’re Dr. Desai, you say, “Yes.”

Dr. Desai now serves as medical director of Camp Taylor, where children with the disease can safely experience the joys of summer camp.

The program has grown from a single camp with 45 children in 2003, to five camps: youth, teen, family, sibling and leadership (for campers after they turn 18). Under the watchful eye of Dr. Desai and other volunteer physicians and nurses he recruits, Camp Taylor hosted nearly 250 campers and 200 of their family members in 2013.

“Most kids won’t take off their shirts until they’ve been at camp for a while, but the youngest ones aren’t self conscious,” he explains. “On the first day of camp, I saw a 3-year-old boy in swim trunks walk up to another kid about the same age. With a little tiny touch, he reached out and felt the scar on the other boy’s chest. The earth stood still for a moment as these two kids realized that there was another person just like them.”

Camp Taylor sessions last one week, but their impact is felt all year, with children and parents connecting through email and during post-operative visits.

The current challenge facing Camp Taylor is raising funds to build a permanent home, so more children with heart disease can not only survive, but thrive. For more information, visit www.kidsheartcamp.org.