Did you know that most CHD kids qualify for the Make-A-Wish program? If you didn’t know that, you are not alone!
Our local support group, Amazing Little Hearts, had a representative from Make-A-Wish at our meeting this past week. He shared about the program and answered all of the parents’ questions. Since not everyone is familiar with the program, I wanted to share what we learned with you. Hopefully, the information below will help you understand Make-A-Wish a little better and answer any questions that you might have.
- Any child between the ages of 2 ½ years and 18 years, that has a life-threatening condition, is eligible for Make-A-Wish. Children must be referred and determined to be medically eligible in order to participate. The final determination for medical eligibility is determined by the child’s treating physician.
- Most complex CHDs qualify as a life-threatening condition. These include, but are not limited to, Hypoplastic Left/Right Heart Syndrome, Double Inlet/Outlet Left/Right Ventricle,Transposition of the Great Arteries, Tetralogy of Fallot, Pulmonary Atresia, etc. If you aren’t sure if your child’s CHD qualifies, consult your pediatric cardiologist.
- Referrals for Make-A-Wish can be made by parents, doctors, nurses, and even social workers. Basically, anyone who has direct knowledge of the child’s condition and has a role in the medical care for the child can refer. MOST referrals are made by the child’s parent, but medical eligibility still must be confirmed by the child’s doctor.
- To refer your child, go to www.wish.org and click on the “Find Your Local Chapter” button on the top, right side of the page. Select your state and then find the office that is closest to your home from the list. Call the number and they will walk you through the referral process. You can also have them send you a referral packet in the mail, but the quickest and easiest way to refer your child is over the phone.
- Some of the information that they will need from you during the referral process is: Personal contact information for parents/guardians, contact information for the child’s treating physician (usually cardiologist for CHD children), general information about the child’s condition or defect, information on any upcoming surgeries or treatments, any physical limitations, handicaps, or special equipment for the child, and an idea of what the child’s wish might be.
- Despite what you might have heard, Make-A-Wish is NOT just for kids who are terminally ill. While children who are terminally ill may receive expedited services from Make-A-Wish, your child does not have to be dying to be able to make a wish. Remember, ANY child with a condition that has or does threaten their life is eligible for a wish. In fact, most children who are granted a wish go on to live happy, full lives.
- Most wishes fall into one of four categories: “I want to be…”, “I want to go…”, “I want to have…”, “I want to meet…”
- The average cost of a wish is $7,500. It is the goal of Make-A-Wish for a child’s wish to cost the family nothing and to have zero impact on the financial situation of the family.
- Make-A-Wish goes to great lengths to ensure that the wish that is granted is actually the wish of the child. They will have trained Wish-Granters meet with the child and ask, “If you could have one wish, what would it be?”
On a personal note, we got some great news last week. Our son Tucker, HLHS, has been accepted into the Make-A-Wish program. We are so excited for him, but also realize that we will be waiting for a little while for him to make his wish. Since Tucker is only 3 and he has his Fontan procedure coming up in June, it may be a couple of years before we meet with the wonderful Wish Granters. We want him to be able to truly pick something special for himself since this is a once in a lifetime experience. We also want him to remember his wish for the rest of his life. We believe that, in order to accomplish these two things, Tucker needs to be at least 5 years old before he makes his wish.
I hope that this information has been helpful to you. Our CHD children go through so many tough times, they deserve the hope, wonder, and magic that comes with being granted a wish. I hope that you will take the time to refer your child to Make-A-Wish and that you will share this information with a friend who has a CHD child or any other life-threatening condition.