About Shaambak Kwetambo

The Kwetambo's family
Shaambak in the hospital at the Standard University
Shaamba in a carseat
Shaamba in a carseat








OCTOBER 19 & OCTOBER 20, 2013




Please meet Shaambak! 

 Shaambak Kwetambo is a beautiful, strong baby boy whose life took a sudden perilous turn in May 2012.  At that time, Shaambak was a very happy, healthy six-month old infant. Suddenly and unexpectedly, he became sick one day with a very high fever and a racing heart. 

He was emergency airlifted to the University of California San Francisco Medical Center where he was diagnosed with myocarditis due to a viral infection.  Ten days later his heart and respiratory functions failed completely. The baby was put on a life support and his parents prepared for the worst. Shaambak survived at least two cardiac arrests. His life hung in the balance for days on end but he finally emerged from the crisis and stabilized. Shaambak suffered two major complications: internal bleeding of the brain (which led to a subdural hematoma surgery and termination of his ECMO support). Due to the lack of normal blood flow to the extremities of his body, left hand withered. He survived but the damage to his heart and extremities was irreversible.

Shaambak’s parents were advised that Shaambak needed a new heart and he was transferred to Lucile Packard Medical Center at Stanford University where he has remained.  His parents also faced the cruel reality that their beloved son would have to lose his left hand and several fingertips on his remaining hand as they were too damaged to be saved. Shaambak was placed on a ventricular-assisted device called a Berlin Heart as to sustain him while he awaited a new heart. As the New Year began, baby Shaambak was a recipient of a beautiful matching heart and had a successful heart transplant on January 3, 2013.

At last we turn to the job of recovery.  Miraculously, Shaambak is now recovering well but his parents face the long term prognosis of constant care for their baby.  The financial implications are staggering– much too much for one family to bear on top of the turmoil of these past months’ crisis. This little boy has been such an inspiration: so vulnerable, yet so strong; so overwhelmed, so hurt, yet so resilient. He is a fighter

With the cost of a transplant often exceeding $500,000, many transplant families are unable to shoulder the financial burden of such a procedure. The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) is a national 501(c)3 charity dedicated to organizing and guiding communities in raising funds for transplant-related expenses.  In Sacramento, a community group of volunteers is raising funds for COTA in honor of transplant patients like local child, Shaambak Kwetambo. An estimated $40,000 is being raised to support the ongoing work of the COTA so it can continue its financial support of families such as Shaambak’s to make organ transplant a reality.

We are asking for donation of $40 or more, but no amount is too small. Donations may be mailed to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, 2501 West COTA Drive, Bloomington, Indiana 47403. Checks or money orders should be made payable to COTA, with “In Honor of Shaambak K” written on the memo line of the check. Donations can also be accepted ONLINE. Every dollar donated to COTA in honor of Shaambak will be used for transplant-related expenses.   

Heartfelt thanks for your help!

COTA For Shaambak Team.

Shaambak's update - 1/31/2013

Hello Everyone,

I just thought you might want to know that baby Shaambak had his second biopsy yesterday Tuesday and today I am so happy to inform you that the results came back great. No sign of rejection, his results were at zero. Which is wonderful! Because of these results, doctors decided that his next biopsy will be a month from now instead of every 2 weeks. They dropped already one medication today due to the good results.

His mother told me that they had such a wonderful day despite the long appointments Shaambak went through. At one of Shaambak's appointments today, his doctor put him in a chair and was talking to him but at the same time Shaambak was making some type of singing noise while he danced. He is able to associate singing to dancing somehow. His doctors continue to be very impressed with him because they say they never had a patient recover so fast the way this child is post transplant. He is learning some normal emotions such as crying for mom when she steps away something he has not been able to do. He is trying to encourage his sisters to make noices, he would scream at them if they are quite but if they start getting wild he is somehow happy because he thinks they are playing with him. When his sisters are eating, he tries to copy they eating motions. So doctors want him to try some puree food and see how he responds to it. He is acting like a one year old should act. Amazing!

In conclusion, if his biopsy continue to be normal at 0 2 more times, he might go home from McDonald House to Sacramento sooner than anticipated.

Thank you for everyone help and dedication to the cause.

Annie Zombil