By Brian Heffron, Wish Dad
In May 2014, while giving my daughter a bath, my wife and I noticed something odd. In addition to looking very pale, she had tiny red dots and bruises on her body. We decided to have our pediatrician check it out, but were not worried.
Twenty four hours later, Kyla was rushed to the emergency room. She was running out of blood. And what was more frightening is that the doctors were not sure why.
After weeks of transfusions and countless tests, Kyla was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anemia, an extremely rare disease that nearly ceases her body’s production of blood cells and causes her body’s immune system to fail to fight against even the weakest of germs. After spending the majority of half a year inpatient at our local children’s hospital, doctors informed us the treatment was not working. The only option for Kyla’s survival was a bone marrow transplant at Boston Children’s Hospital.
It was in Boston on a very cold night that I was walking back to our apartment from the hospital when I broke down. Kyla was so tired of living an isolated life, so over being sick, so done with restrictions that kept her away from playing with others. She was constantly being reminded of her illness, both from her own body and her surroundings. She needed something bright to hold on too. Something to fight for. She needed a wish. The next morning I called our hometown Make-A-Wish and asked for help. Their amazing staff immediately got to work.
Kyla first expressed to us that her wish was to meet her favorite doctor. My wife and I were shocked. How could a three-year-old be so humble? When her wish granter pressed further about who this doctor was, she proudly told us that it was Doctor McStuffins from the Disney Junior television series, “Doc McStuffins.”
For Kyla, meeting Doc was so much more than just meeting a “celebrity.” Doc represented so much to her. She normalized what was a very grownup and confusing world that Kyla was experiencing. I remember her telling me she wanted to meet Doc in order to show her how brave of a fighter she was, how she was just as brave as those toys Doc “fixed” in every episode. In March 2016, Make-A-Wish provided Kyla an opportunity for that to happen, a visit to meet Doc McStuffins at Walt Disney World.
Kyla was so proud to show Doc she was on the road to recovery. This is the moment that I knew my daughter was going to be okay. You can see it in her face, can’t you?
Make-A-Wish grants wishes to children facing life-threatening illnesses, regardless of who they are or where they come from. But if you think about it, they grant wishes for all of us, right? We all wish for comfort to those who are struggling. We all wish energy and encouragement to those who need it.
As a volunteer with Make-A-Wish Central New York, I see the experiences of other hopeful children. I not only give what I have, but I also share Kyla’s journey and volunteer my efforts to raise awareness of this great organization and the impact it has on a child.
The Make-A-Wish experience, will stay forever. When she steps on stage at her first recital, it will be there. When pulling away in your car from dropping her off at college, it will be there. When you are walking her down the aisle, it will be there. The power of a wish lasts forever.
You have Kyla’s permission and mine to share her story in your communities, your businesses, your homes, and organizations. Remember, there are still so many children who are battling life-threatening illnesses, who close their eyes and wish.
All I ask is that you pledge to be the one who grants those wishes. Be a wish granter. All of you…all of us. Please, encourage someone who has not donated to Make-A-Wish to join us in our efforts to make all wishes come true for children in our community.
From Kyla’s heart and the countless hearts of all wish kids, I say thank you, thank you, thank you.