A Wish to hold and cuddle
As she takes daily medication to control a heart condition, Chloe's thoughts have been on a puppy she hopes will become her best friend.
It was when she was 15,000 kilometres from home that Chloe’s life changed forever. As she prepared for lunch with her family on Christmas Day 2018 in Texas, Chloe has a massive seizure and was rushed to hospital.
She stayed in hospital for five days where she was diagnosed with the heart condition, idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Chloe's heart was about five times the size it should be.
“We then flew home and straight to The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne,” wish mum Kerryn said.
“The Texas hospital had been talking to the RCH, so we walked in their door and they said ‘we knew you were coming’.”
Kerryn said Chloe’s condition was “an old person’s disease" and very rare in young people like Chloe, who was just 8 years old at the time.
“It was awful,” Kerryn said. “It was very overwhelming because we knew it was progressive and you’re not sure when those stages will come.”
Resilient girl with puppy plans
Chloe’s treatment initially was two oral medications, but when the seizures continued, she had to have a central chest line for intravenous infusions.
The line went from the right side of her chest straight to her heart.
“She is just so resilient, and whenever I said ‘you have to do this’ she always went ‘OK mum,’” Kerryn said.
“If it’s a medical procedure, she’ll ask the questions and then she’ll do it. So brave. One of the surgeries she had to have when she was awake – as an adult, I’d hate to do that. She’s just been an absolute trooper.”
While she is still having treatment, Chloe has exceeded doctors' expectations and got her 'normal life' back, which includes dancing and school (before the emergence of COVID-19).
Her wish was to have a puppy, which would be a best friend and something to cuddle.
“She wanted a little companion to cuddle, to sit beside and give her that bit of comfort when she’s home,” Kerryn said.
I wish for a Jack Russell puppy called WishChloe, 10 pulmonary arterial hypertension
Wish meets Chloe
Chloe’s wish day followed a lot of anticipation activities involving Make-A-Wish volunteers.
“The volunteers took Chloe shopping two months ago and let her choose whatever she wanted for the puppy. Bed, toys, bowl,” Kerryn said.
“They made Chloe feel really special.”
Chloe named her puppy Wish after Make-A-Wish and Kerryn said the night before the pup’s arrival she was “pretty pumped”.
Kerryn said Chloe began bonding with Wish from the moment they met.
"She just had a big smile on her face when he arrived," Kerryn said.
"I think she was just a little bit overwhelmed at how little he was. She was just staring at him. She wants Wish to know that she’s his mum.
"She’s been getting down on the ground having a good play with him. I don’t think my husband got a cuddle till 9.30pm that first night, he couldn’t get near him!"
Pup a welcome distraction
Kerryn said new family member Wish would be a positive distraction for Chloe.
“I think he’ll make a huge difference,” Kerryn said.
“I think Wish will be a bit of a distraction for her because we do have so much hands-on medical stuff that we still do at home. Daily line changes, dressings once or twice a week, and I feel sometimes we talk about it quite a bit just because it’s part of a day-to-day routine.
“Having a pup encourages her to get outside with him and take him for walks.”
Kerryn said she was overwhelmed by what Make-A-Wish and its volunteers – particularly Volunteer Team Leader Simone Green – have done.
“The volunteers are phenomenal, Simone called me all the time and kept me updated," Kerryn said.
"I think you don’t really know until you’re in the situation of your child getting a wish how much care and involvement comes from the volunteers and the Wish team. They really took time to get to know Chloe and what she was after.
"You don’t expect it, you just fill in the forms. But what we got is that really personalised experience for her and for us."
I just think what Make-A-Wish does for kids is absolutely amazing... just phenomenal.Kerryn Chloe's mum
The Wish Journey
How a wish comes to life
Make-A-Wish volunteers visit each child to capture their greatest wish, getting to the heart of what kids truly want and why. This profound insight is part of what makes Make-A-Wish unique, giving children full creative control and helping to shape their entire Wish Journey.
Back at Make-A-Wish HQ, we partner with families, volunteers and medical teams to design the ultimate wish experience - and start rallying our partners and supporters to help make it happen.
In the lead up to the wish, we take each child on a journey designed to build excitement and provide a welcome distraction from medical treatment. Anticipation can be incredibly powerful, helping to calm, distract and inspire sick kids at a time they need it most.
When the moment finally arrives, children get to experience their greatest wish come true - it's everything they've imagined and more. Pinch yourself, and don't forget to take a breath and enjoy every precious moment!
Wish impact studies show that a child's wish lives on, long after the moment. A wish gives more than just hope – with an incredible and lasting effect on the lives of sick kids, their families and wider communities.