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Liver Transplant Patient Gives Back

August 15, 2014

Boy Scout Organizes Toy Drive for Pediatric Patients Hospitalized at The Nebraska Medical Center

Omaha, Neb – At the age of 13, Doug Pepper noticed his eyes were turning yellow. The teen from Indianola, Iowa was also fatigued. A trip to the doctor confirmed, Pepper had autoimmune hepatitis – his body’s immune system was attacking his liver.

Doug supply drive

“It’s caused by a virus that can be in your body for a number of years. Mine was there without any symptoms,” explains Pepper. “At first, doctors in Des Moines tried using fluids to heal my liver, but it finally got to the point where I needed a transplant. They gave me the choice of going to the Mayo Clinic or The Nebraska Medical Center.”

In December 2012, Pepper underwent a successful liver transplant at the med center. During his almost 7-week stay, Pepper relied on the Child Life Services staff to keep his spirits high.

“They had plenty of activities that allowed me to meet new, different-storied people. I really enjoyed art days, watching movies, pet therapy and a special visit from some Monster Jam drivers. Child Life completely changed my stay at the hospital.”

Iowa supply drive 2

Almost two years after his transplant, Pepper is working towards becoming an Eagle Scout with his home troop in Iowa. To help achieve his Eagle Scout goal, Pepper has organized two supply drives for Child Life Services. The first drive was held in Indianola on August 9. Pepper and his troop collected 1,143 supplies along with gift cards and cash donations. The second drive will be held in Omaha on August 16.

“Even in the hospital, kids need opportunities to be kids,” says Lisa Wallace-Spech, child life specialist at the med center. “Play is such an important tool in helping children cope with hospitalization. Supporting Doug in this drive will not only help him in reaching his goal of achieving Eagle Scout, it will also help him and his fellow scouts with the opportunity to help others in the community.”

The Omaha supply drive will be held on Saturday, August 16 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the front doors of the Walmart on South 72nd Street. Due to the safety and well-being of patients, all toys and supplies must be new to reduce the risk of infection. Those interested in donating are encouraged to give:

  • Easy read children’s books
  • DVD’s (nothing rated R)
  • Puzzles (under 200 pieces)
  • Play dough and small cookie cutters
  • Bubbles (in a spill proof container)
  • Thomas & Friends toy trains
  • Barbie Dolls and clothing
  • Craft supplies (markers, scissors, crayons, glitter glue, acrylic paints, fuzzy posters, canvases, items to paint, etc.)
  • Games for teenagers (playing cards, UNO, Skip-Bo, etc.)
  • Gift cards to Walmart and iTunes

Iowa supply drive

“People should donate because it goes to help hospitalized kids who are going through a difficult time in life,” encourages Pepper. “I’m doing this because I can relate to their experience.”

Pepper plans to deliver all the donations to the med center on Saturday, September 6. The supplies will be used in the hospital’s playroom and Teen Room for group and individual activities. Toys will also be taken to the child’s bedside if they are too sick to come out of their room. Other supplies will be used as gifts during carnival night and patients’ birthday parties.

“It really gives meaning to everything Doug has been through,” smiles Wallace-Spech. “We are the lucky ones to get to know kids like Doug and the impact they make.”

If you’re unable to attend the Omaha supply drive, but would still like to make a donation, contact the hospital’s Office of Development at (402) 552-2029.

WHAT: Supply drive for Child Life Services at The Nebraska Medical Center. Supplies will help pediatric patients who are staying at the hospital.

WHEN: Saturday, August 16 from 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: Walmart at 1606 S. 72nd Street, Omaha, NE

OTHER: If you plan to attend, please contact Jenny Nowatzke (402) 740-8148.

With a reputation for excellence, innovation and extraordinary patient care, The Nebraska Medical Center is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Top Hospitals in cancer, neurology/neurosurgery, pulmonology, gastroenterology, urology and nephrology. It has earned J.D. Power and Associates’ Hospital of Distinction award for inpatient services for six consecutive years and has also achieved Magnet recognition status for nursing excellence. As the teaching hospital for the University of Nebraska Medical Center, this 627 licensed bed academic medical center has an international reputation for providing solid organ and bone marrow transplantation and is well known nationally and regionally for its oncology, neurology and cardiology programs. The Nebraska Medical Center can be found online at

One Comment leave one →
  1. Rod Van Horn DVM permalink
    August 15, 2014 10:40

    Thank you Doug for paying it forward in true Scouting Spirit. I remember being a part of your Board of Review in 2013 as you were recovering here in Omaha. I knew right then and there you would attain your Eagle Rank. Awesome!

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