I was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome at two weeks of life. According to my parents, I was taken to the cardiologist because the heart murmur doctors heard in the hospital the day I was born sounded different. The next thing they knew, I was being rushed across the street from the cardiologist’s office into Children’s Memorial Hospital to undergo emergency open heart surgery. Since that day, I have had two more open heart surgeries and many other procedures and tests necessary to ensure that my heart is still functioning at its best, as well as take daily medication.
My cardiologist, Dr. Weigel, told my parents when I was two years old that I was eligible for the Make-A-Wish program. My parents were adamant that they wanted this to be my wish and decided to wait until I could choose an opportunity that would be significant to me.
Making the decision was overwhelming, but my wish granters, Rosemary and Cliff were beyond kind and patient as I struggled. I had been very fortunate to live overseas for several years and had the opportunity to visit many foreign countries, but the one place I always wanted to see was Antarctica.
This was a wish that had never been granted, but Rosemary and Cliff worked furvently to make this wish become a reality. In December of 2015, ironically on my 17th birthday, I stepped on board a cruise ship in Ushuaia, Argentina with my family to spend two weeks on an adventure to the coldest continent on Earth.
I will share that I really try not to think about what my illness means for my future. On the trip, the days were long, both as we cruised along the Atlantic Ocean to the mainland and the fact that sun set after midnight. One night, as I stared out into the ocean with floating icebergs passing by, I realized the future is bright and promising. While there are no guarantees for what the future holds, I do know that despite all odds, I am here and have experienced an adventure that will stay with me for a lifetime.
The list is extensive, but I cannot thank every sponsors, donor, and hard-working staff member enough who made my wish become a reality.