Magical Memories Made with Make-A-Wish

My Make-A-Wish recipient story

Northern Arizona University
5 min readMar 22, 2024

By Maia Thompson, NAU Junior

“My health was declining quickly as Wilson’s began to affect my kidneys. As each day passed, my health continued to get worse, and my surgeon would take any liver that wasn’t my blood type to save my life.”

My Medical Journey

When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with Wilson’s, a rare genetic disease that causes too much copper to accumulate. I learned I was born with the disease but most patients are not symptomatic until later.

In August 2015, I was jaundiced and admitted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. After undergoing a liver biopsy, I was diagnosed with liver failure and placed on the transplant list

My health was declining quickly as Wilson’s began to affect my kidneys.

To make it more complicated, I learned that I had O+ type blood — which means I can only receive from the same type.

Luckily, we learned my mom was O+ too. She immediately started the testing process which was extremely tedious and time-consuming.

As each day passed, my health continued to get worse, and my surgeon would take any liver that wasn’t my blood type to save my life.

From my admission to the hospital, it took five days to receive a new liver.

On September 3, 2015 I received an AB-type liver. Although I had a liver the different blood type meant I would likely experience some complications post-surgery.


To this day, I consider the recovery process to be the most difficult and longest experience of my life.

With the impact Wilson’s had on my kidneys, I had to undergo dialysis.

At the hospital, I contracted pneumonia and had many X-rays on my lungs.

Many of my IVs had to be changed and redressed, which caused lots of pokes and my skin to be irritated from the tape.

I also had to relearn how to stand and walk due to being bedridden.

After a month, I was discharged from the hospital.

Within that first year, I was in and out of the hospital for one reason or another — kidney rejection issues, complications with my bile ducts, pancreatitis, and high doses of immunosuppressants.

My Make-A-Wish Encounter 🕯️

In 2016, during one of my stays in the hospital, I was approached by a child life therapist who informed me that I qualified for Make-A-Wish.

Initially, I was shocked.

I assumed that Make-A-Wish was only for cancer patients.

Without hesitation, I agreed to participate in making a wish.

My Wish ✨

When it came to thinking of wishes, my immediate thought was Walt Disney World. In 2009, my parents first took my sister and me to the amusement park. This trip created many fond family memories and it is still a trip I often reflect on.

During my first recovery, I would watch documentaries on Disney parks in my hospital bed. The documentaries gave me hope that I would someday be healthy enough to go back to Disney.

Planning my wish involved meetings with wish granters from Make-A-Wish Arizona.

Despite Walt Disney World being a popular request — my wish granters encouraged me to come up with alternate wishes.

I thought about a trip to Italy and meeting one of my favorite singers, Selena Gomez.

However, I was set on making Walt Disney World my wish. Walt Disney World created happy memories for my family once, and I wanted nothing more than to relive that a second time.

Planning the trip

When I made my wish, I was in eighth grade and a year post-transplant.

We originally planned to go in the fall to see the Halloween decorations.

However, Hurricane Matthew had other plans and the trip was rescheduled. I was devastated when I heard the news.

My parents then suggested we go during Christmas. Walt Disney World is known to have the best Christmas decorations and even has a Christmas-themed after-hours event. This ended up being the best decision ever!

In December, my family and I were set to go during my school’s winter break. Make-A-Wish sent a limousine to my house to drive my family and me to the airport. This was the first time I had ever been in a limo, so I was ecstatic.

The flight was great, and we drove to our resort, the Polynesian Village. Upon arrival, my family and I walked to the back of the resort near the pool and there we saw it — Cinderella’s castle.

At just a glance, the castle signified to me that I made it through my most difficult hardship.

The Most Magical Week

My trip to Walt Disney World lasted a week — more than enough time to create fun memories with my family.

With my health slowly making a comeback, I was on IV medication at the time of my trip.

Additionally, I was building my stamina back up and would often run out of breath.

As a result, I had to plan breaks throughout my time at the parks.

Make-A-Wish informed my family and me of locations within the parks designated for these types of medical breaks. As the patient, I felt very cared for and that my medical needs were being prioritized for the entire trip.

My family and I took full advantage of what the parks had to offer, which included Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Make-A-Wish gave my family and me front-of-the-line passes, which gave us even more time to squeeze in more rides.

When the trip concluded, I felt satisfied with what I was able to accomplish.

I was sad that the trip had to end but it made a negative time in my life turn into something a lot more magical.



Northern Arizona University

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