Bits 'n' Pieces: Alfie stars on Jimmy Fallon’s show

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photoJimmy Fallon’s tweet about Alfie Bautista.

Forget the blood draws, medication and surgical procedures. Underneath it all, Alfie Bautista is just a normal kid.

The Vancouver 14-year-old, who had the region’s first intestine transplant six years ago, has been visiting Camp Korey in the King County town of Carnation for five years. The site is a special place designed to give kids with medical and developmental problems a normal summer-camp experience by allowing them try new things while addressing their individual needs.

And in early April, Alfie got to promote the camp in New York with comedian Jimmy Fallon and country singer Trisha Yearwood after it was made part of Paul Newman’s SeriousFun Children’s Network.

“Camp Korey called us, and they were thinking who were the talented kids to send -- and everybody voted for him,” said Alfie’s mother, Abigail. “He was the only kid that really got to work with a celebrity. He was really excited.”

Alfie sang with a group of other kids in the Children’s Network and put together a comedic performance with the host of NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” who sent out a tweet about it afterward.

“My man Alfie Bautista stole the show. I’ll be back, Alfie. #SeriousFun,” Fallon said in the tweet.

Alfie had some problems with organ rejection a few years ago, and his small and large intestines are still not connected to one another. He’s on anti-rejection medication, which he’ll likely need for the rest of his life. And he’s underweight and short for his age.

His doctor is trying to get him to gain several pounds in the next two years before the two organs can be attached, Abigail said.

Still, his spirits are good, she added.

“He’s doing great,” she said. “His personality has changed a lot, now that he can eat and make new friends. Camp Korey made him know he’s a normal kid, but also a special one.”

— Sue Vorenberg

The story behind the naming of HeLa High

Evergreen Public Schools’ newest high school, which will focus on health and bio-sciences, will be named after Henrietta Lacks, a poor Southern tobacco farmer whose cancer cells were used to develop the polio vaccine, gene mapping and more. A bestselling book about the woman, who died in 1951, inspired members of the school’s naming committee. Henrietta Lacks High School is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013 near PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver.

The commercial use of Lacks’ cells without her family’s permission raises the kinds of ethical questions that will be a part of the curriculum at HeLa High, said Victoria Bradford, a school board member on the naming committee.

Zach Hall, a Heritage High School senior and the 2012 Marshall Youth Leadership Award recipient, read Rebecca Skloot’s book on Lacks and became a particularly big proponent of naming the school for Lacks, Bradford said. All three students on the committee strongly supported adopting Lacks’ name for the school, and the committee unanimously voted for it in the end, Bradford said.

Skloot, the book’s author, grew up in Portland. Her mother, Betsy McCarthy, lives in Vancouver, and Skloot’s nephew graduated from Heritage High in the summer of 2011, said district spokeswoman Carol Fenstermacher.

— Scott Hewitt

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email bits@columbian.com.