Freestyle 2017: Carissa | OHSU Foundation

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Life is one big dance party for little Carissa, who loves making up crazy new choreography. (Her latest move? An energetic shimmy-wriggle-wriggle combo.)




Springfield, Ore.


Born without kidneys


Air Jordan 12 Retro

Carissa’s Air Jordan 12 is perfect for dancing and also a showcase for her favorite things. You’ll find her stuffed dog Max on the outsole, a picture of her family inside, and a slice of pizza on the laces. “I put pizza on my shoe because pizza is delicious!” she smiled.

Of all the things that Carissa loves most, her twin sister Savannah tops the list. Carissa was born without kidneys, but Savannah helped her stay alive in the womb until she could begin dialysis. “She’s the best sister ever,” said Carissa of her twin.

For the early years of her life, Carissa was a regular at Doernbecher, where she quickly charmed her care team. “Joyful and feisty are two perfect words to describe her,” said Dr. David Rozansky. Known as the “adorable little diva” by many of her nurses, Carissa could always count on her favorite nurse to provide pink princess Band-Aids during her treatments.

“I always have a warm, fuzzy feeling in my soul, and I want everyone to feel the same way!”

Carissa during treatment at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital

When she turned four, Carissa was matched with an adult donor and finally got her very own kidney. She named it Mrs. Bean. (Her family celebrates the date of her transplant every year with a kidney-themed party.)

Carissa says she has big plans for the future and would like to be a professional basketball player someday, or perhaps a veterinarian.

Her joyous attitude is best summed up by a phrase that appears on her shoe: I’ve got fuzzy in my soul. As Carissa explained, “I always have a warm, fuzzy feeling in my soul, and I want everyone to feel the same way!”

Mission accomplished.