The wish effect

The wish effect

At least 2,000 children are diagnosed with a life threatening illness each year. That’s six children every day, sitting in the doctor’s office and fearing the worst for their future.

In fact, our latest review-in-progress suggests this figure is much higher. Recent Australian medical research statistics show:

  • Each year, over 950 Australian children and adolescents (0-19 year olds) are diagnosed with cancer
  • Approximately 3,000 babies are born with a heart condition each year, and
  • One in every 2,500 births produces a child with cystic fibrosis

While many children eventually find ways to cope with or even beat their illness, there’s not much to look forward to in the months and years of treatment ahead. There’s little opportunity for sick kids to just be kids, and enjoy the moments other children take for granted.

Make-A-Wish creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. We believe wishes help children build the physical and emotional resilience they need to fight critical illness - with the power to positively impact the lives of not only sick kids, but also their families and wider communities.


Why do wishes matter?

More than 30 years of anecdotal feedback and ongoing international research has shown wishes are an essential complement to a child’s medical treatment, giving kids experiencing critical illness greater hope for their future.

Being on a Wish Journey gives children as greater sense of purpose and control over what happens to them.

When they know a wish is coming, children have the opportunity to stop focusing on their physical limitations, and start imagining their future.

When a wish is granted, a child experiences more positive emotions – replacing fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

Wishes work to complement a child’s medical treatment, helping to calm, distract and empower sick kids at the time they need it most.


“Some say a wish is a nice to have but the latest research suggests this actually isn’t the case at all. While we can’t cure childhood illness, together we can give seriously ill children the anticipation and lasting experience of a wish-come-true – helping them discover anything is possible.” 

- Sally Bateman, CEO, Make-A-Wish Australia


Dom's wish gave him a new confidence

Dom, 10, has cystic fibrosis. For as long as he can remember, he’s endured a daily treatment regime, from physio to clear his lungs to exercise and a special diet. He does whatever he can to avoid getting sick and ending up in hospital, which he ‘hates’.

Dom, 9, living with Cystic Fibrosis, has been completely transformed since his wish to be Iron Boy came true

Dom says his wish was ‘the best day of my life’.

“A helicopter landed in the park where I was playing and the police said they needed my help urgently! So I went to Police Headquarters, put on my Iron Boy suit and we went on the police boat to rescue Make-A-Wish news reporter, Hope Joy.

"Then, I got to save Sydney and defeat Ultron on the steps of the Opera House! The Police Commissioner gave me a Medal of Valour and heaps of people were cheering.

“At the end of the day, Tony Stark (aka Robert Downey Jr – the real one!) even sent me a message and made me an honorary Avenger."

"If I had a superpower, it would be to help other people. And now I AM Iron Boy, I know I can do anything!"

- Wish Child Dom, aka Iron Boy


Scarlett’s wish made the impossible possible!

Scarlett, 5, lives with a rare heart defect. From the moment she was born, she’s fought to survive – experiencing infections, viruses, blood clots, heart surgery, oxygen masks and needles.

More than anything in the world, Scarlett wished to see a unicorn fly - – and to taste its ‘rainbow-flavoured’ horn.

So we brought in the experts – visionary animators, talented projectionists, a specialty dessert chef (who knows what a unicorn’s horn should taste like), symphony musicians (who know what music will make a unicorn fly), crown makers, unicorn trainers, face painters…and more

Against a magical night-time setting, a crowd of 200 excited guests arrived ready for unicorn spotting, real life fairies and an incredible light show. As Scarlett’s wish came to life; and the look of joy on her face said it all – and the impossible had become possible.

“When we’re having a day at home where there’s sadness or Scarlett’s not feeling well, the conversation of a unicorn comes up. It just fixes everything, and I think it will be like that for a very long time,”

- Roxanne, Scarlett’s mum.


More about wishes

< What the experts say

< More incredible wish stories

< Apply for a wish