LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS 11)--They are Kentuckiana's sickest kids, in need of constant, critical care, isolated from the rest of the world.
Camryn Ray is one of them.
"His situation's very complicated," Beth Chase, Camryn's mom said. "We came in originally for a heart transplant. Since then, he's gotten too sick for a transplant."
Camryn is no stranger to the PICU.
"He's in isolation, so he can't leave the room," Chase said.
At just 6 years old, it's been his home the last 8 months. In fact, his mother says he hasn't stepped outside since last summer.
Most of us have never had to walk the floors of the PICU, but a handful of volunteers make it their mission to bring joy to more than 30 kids and their families on a daily basis. Charlie Dennis is one of them.
"I didn't really select the PICU. When I came in, I explained I wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus to kids and their families. Norton was kind enough to place me in the PICU so I feel really blessed. It's a lifeline for me as a retired person to come in and not focus on myself but focus on the kids. I enjoy that time," Dennis said.
Dennis is one of 6 volunteers who knows most of the kids in the PICU by name.
"We've just become good friends. You know, [Camryn's} a blessing for me. I've been volunteering for about a year and spent about 3 months with him," Dennis said.
He walks the floor with a contagious smile and a bond you feel the moment you meet.
"The child is really the boss. Whatever they like to do, is what we do. We spend a lot of time doing what means a lot to them," Dennis said.
It's a simple gesture to so many families in really tough circumstances. He's a hand to hold when the parents can't be there and good company when they are.
"If a parent's here five days a week with their child and they have other commitments at home, that's really humbling for me to see that. If there's anything I can do to help ease the time here with the family and kids, I'm just glad to be apart of that," Dennis said.
"When it is time for Camryn to go home, it's going to be weird for me, because this is my family now," his mom said.
Dennis sees anywhere from 3 to 7 kids in a day, some battling cancer, a trauma or waiting for a new heart. For Camryn, it's a waiting game.
"He's developed a blood clot that's in his heart," Chase said.
So, his chances at a transplant in his current state are slim but doctors aren't giving up.
In the meantime, he'll have Dennis at his side.
There is always a need for more volunteers. You're put through a screening process to make sure you'd be a good fit. These kids are facing life-threatening illnesses, so it can be a very intense atmosphere.
If you'd like to volunteer with Norton Healthcare, you can read more here.