In 2012, Shrey's normal teenage life was upended after a check-up revealed a previously undetected critical illness. Recently, he spoke to us about his life-changing experience.
Shrey Maheshwari was a typical 17-year-old when the doctor noticed something amiss with Shrey's help and brought his parents in to tell him the news: Shrey had a severe chronic kidney disease.
"I felt like I was invincible like any high schooler would, so I was the only one not crying. My parents were really struggling."
Shrey's kidneys were not functioning like they were supposed to. While there were no outward symptoms of his disease, his poor kidney function could cause a heart attack with no symptoms or signs.
"I've been rushed out of my bed, my high school, you name it, to go to the hospital." Every week, Shrey would get a blood test and soon he required dialysis.
Through all of this, Shrey wanted to seem as ordinary as possible to his friends and family. "That feeling of not being normal was unsettling. I told no one in high school." The stigma and sympathy that comes with having a critical illness was tough to handle, and for Shrey, the normalcy of talking about life with his friends was what he needed to get through.
One of the social workers at Lurie Children's Hospital introduced Shrey and his family to Make-A-Wish, sharing that his condition was potentially eligible. "It was a long time of negative things hitting, and then this happened. That ray of positive sunlight changed my life. We were thinking of what the wish was going to be, not dialysis."
While thinking through the different options, Shrey was applying to colleges. It was then that he decided he wanted to use his wish to help him have an unforgettable college experience. "I wanted to use this wish to empower me. Make-A-Wish has empowered me to do what I want, when I want it. And I wanted to use that feeling in helping my future in college." Shrey wished for financial help with his college expenses, enabling his dream to attend university while helping ease the burden financially on his family.
With the help from Make-A-Wish Illinois, Shrey attended and graduated from University of Illinois in biomedical engineering. Now working at Deloitte, a longtime supporter of Make-A-Wish, Shrey is continuing to help the organization that gave so much to him. Shrey is a committee member for the Walk for Wishes Montrose Harbor event is completing training to become a volunteer wish granter.
Since his wish, Shrey also received a kidney transplant and is on the road to recovery.
"Make-A-Wish gave so much to me, and I wanted to make sure I gave back."