POIPU — Julie Kobayashi, a 15-year-old from Waipahu, got to enjoy the Bungalow 5 at the Sheraton Kauai Resort Monday afternoon.
Kobayashi, a recent heart transplant recipient, is the 2016-17 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Champion, and was on hand with representatives of the Wilcox Health and Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children to accept a $20,000 contribution from the Sheraton Kauai Resort.
“Chip Bahouth, the Sheraton Kauai general manager, reminds me a lot of Chef Dave,” Julie Kobayashi said to her mother Lori Kobayashi. “That’s like the Chip and Dale team.”
The contribution represents proceeds from the rental of Bungalow 5 on the resort grounds. Josh Helmin, the manager of the Sheraton pool and its surrounding facilities, said in addition to the rental of Bungalow 5, they added the proceeds of rental of Cabana 5 and, from March, a dollar from each of the breakfast buffets served at Lava’s restaurant.
“Our original goal was $16,000 fundraising for the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children,” said June Cappiello, the Sheraton director of public relations. “With the generosity of Josh and his crew, we surpassed that amount and are glad to be able to present the Children’s Miracle Network the $20,000 contribution.”
“It was the day before Thanksgiving in 2013,” Lori Kobayashi said. “Julie fainted, and we took her to the emergency room.”
After looking at her, they shot her up to the hospital and the Intensive Care Unit, where she spent three weeks.
“I could not believe it when the doctor said Julie had heart failure,” Lori Kobayashi said. “Her heart was pumping at less than 10 percent capacity. She was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged. She was 11 years old, and turned 12 in ICU.”
From there, Julie Kobayashi was transported by air ambulance to Seattle for a heart transplant.
“We couldn’t go with her,” Lori Kobayashi said. “Dave, her father, went on the first commercial flight he could get. Myself and Katie, Julie’s sister, worked to get a flight, but it was just a few days before Christmas and it was quite difficult and the fares were expensive.”
The Children’s Miracle Network was great in providing support during this difficult time, Lori Kobayashi said.
“They gave us hope,” she said. “They had other girls the same age as Julie come in and tell her everything was going to be all right. The young girls, their families all went through the same thing we were experiencing.”
Today, Julie Kobayashi is simply enjoying life.
“She goes to Kalani High School, close to where I work,” Lori Kobayashi said. “The school is also close to her medical appointments. She had a full schedule of appointments following her transplant. Now, she was just told that she can come in every three months instead of weekly.”
Julie Kobayashi, after leaving Kauai, said she is looking forward to checking out Rocky’s in Waipahu and their short stack, hamburger and an orange freeze.
“I am here today because of the team at Kapiolani,” she said. “I am proud to serve as an ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network, to let people know of the care they have given to 34 million kids who have been treated by Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.”