Nurse gifts guitar inscribed by Ed Sheeran to teen undergoing kidney dialysis


When a Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford nurse won a special guitar, he decided to gift it to the hospital's biggest Ed Sheeran fan - the reaction to this full circle philanthropy was priceless

Published on March 12, 2019

When nurse Colin James won a guitar inscribed by musician Ed Sheeran in the Mix 106 Toy Drive drawing, he immediately knew he wanted to give the guitar to the hospital’s biggest Ed Sheeran fan, Kayano Lizardo-Bristow, a fifteen-year-old from Yuba City, CA who is undergoing dialysis while awaiting a kidney transplant at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

For the past eight months, Kayano and his mom, April Bristow, have been living at the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford while he receives treatment for his chronic kidney disease. Kayano’s entire family, including his musician grandfather, helps keep his spirits up as he waits for the day when a kidney match is found.

As Bristow puts it, “It has been a long tough journey with chronic kidney disease his entire life and finally getting to this chapter. It’s tough on a 15-year-old boy to be so limited in extracurricular activities, visits with others and access to fun things.” Although Kayano is able to go home some weekends and his dad and younger brother visit, she admits, “We have been feeling extra homesick, more than ever lately.”

Packard Children’s board-certified music therapist, Rebekah Martin, started working with Kayano a few months ago after a referral to the hospital’s music therapy program and learning of his longtime interest in music. Martin believes that music therapy and their weekly sessions together have played a large part in helping Kayano keep up a positive outlook during his time in the hospital.

“Although it looks like we’re jamming out or ‘just learning guitar,’ we’re really working on so much more. Music is the medium through which therapy is happening,” says Martin.

Kayano enjoys the music of Coldplay, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Dire Straits but his favorite musician by far is Ed Sheeran. He and Martin have been working on a Sheeran ballad, Perfect, breaking down chord progressions, harmonizing together and getting closer to mastering the melody. Having never had his own guitar – he always played his grandfather’s or mother’s – Kayano was recently surprised by an extraordinary gift from one of his nurses, Colin James, RN. James learned of Kayano’s love for Sheeran’s music and devised the surprise.

“When Rebekah told me about Kayano’s passion for music and how it helps him cope with being in the hospital, I knew I had to give this guitar to him. He is going through a difficult time in his life and my hope is that it brings him a little joy,” said James.

“I was sitting in dialysis with Mom, Dad and Rebekah, playing the [Ed Sheeran] song Thinking Out Loud,” Kayano described. “Rebekah said, ‘I think we need a new guitar for this part.’ Then a few people walked in, Colin was carrying a guitar case. I was in shock, I was about to have a heart attack! I had a very emotional reaction. Everyone was tearing up. I played a song on the new guitar, I finished while I was crying.”

The guitar is inscribed with the words “Play! Don’t display! Ed Sheeran.”

“He has wanted his own guitar for a long time, but we couldn’t afford it. Kayano has been learning over the years, but actually never had a nice guitar of his own. He talked about having his own guitar all of the time. This is a great boost of inspiration and energy that we could both use right now!”