Volleyball: Remy giving back

August 22, 2012|By Charlie Brande

The inaugural Heart 2 Heart Volleyball Tournament is an event with an amazing story. Remy Wilson, an incoming Newport Harbor High freshman, has organized the tournament as a vehicle to support a cause that is very important to her: the UCLA Pediatric Cancer Research Center.

On Dec. 16, 2011, Wilson went to the Newport Harbor-Corona del Mar girls' water polo game to support her good friend, Presley Pender. It was the day before her 14th birthday party. The Carden Hall eighth-grader whose school volleyball team had just won its league championship, started to suffer from intense pain in her lower back, coupled with intense sweating and chills.

Remy's parents, Darren and Kelly, took her to the emergency room at Hoag Hospital where a CT scan revealed a 21-centimeter mass in her abdomen as well as several liver lesions. She was transferred immediately to CHOC in Orange.


At CHOC, Remy had exploratory surgery with the hope of doing a biopsy. The doctor discovered a vascular mass (enclosed in blood vessels) that created a great risk of bleeding.

While the anxiety was intense, all those close to the Remys tried to move forward. The birthday party moved to CHOC with many of Remy's teammates at both Carden Hall and with her Orange County Volleyball Club team present.

Remy was discharged from CHOC with doctors fearing that removal of the mass would be very dangerous due to excessive bleeding.

Darren Wilson went to work with a mission to find a solution. He consulted with doctors from many places such as the Mayo Clinic, Cedars and Rady's Children One of those highly recommended was Dr. Amin Mirhadi who strongly recommended UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center. Mirhadi is a former Newport Harbor volleyball and football player who is now a renowned pediatric oncologist at UCLA.

At UCLA, Remy found her Godsend in Dr. Ronald Busuttil, a liver transplant surgeon who felt confident that he could remove the mass without complications. On Jan. 6, Dr. Busuttil, with assistance from Dr. Noah Federman, removed the mass (weighing 10 pounds) with miraculous results. There were no blood transfusions, no grafts, and only 75% of the Psoas muscle removed. A Miracle!

One week later, the results of the pathology were benign and the mass was labeled as a hemangloma (a vascular malformation). The doctors warned that Remy may walk with a limp and might never play volleyball again.

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