This Christmas, 31 children and their families are travelling to Lapland with Make-A-Wish. Each one of them needs your help to make their wish come true. One of those children is Alyssa....
Alyssa, from Bedford, wishes to go to Lapland this Christmas. Sponsor her wish and other children's Christmas wishes today.
Six-year-old Alyssa lives in Bedford with her older brother and her parents. She wishes to drink hot chocolate with Santa in Lapland and meet her pet husky Logan’s brothers and sisters who, Alyssa believes, live in Lapland with all the other snowdogs!
Doctors gathered round
Alyssa is an outgoing girl who loves to sing, dance and play with her husky, Logan. But she had a tough start in life.
Everyone had thought Alyssa had a touch of jaundice as a baby. Then her eyes began turning yellow and she was referred for blood tests at hospital.
Mum Tracy found herself being ushered behind closed curtains as doctors gathered around her. They had found a serious problem with Alyssa’s liver and she needed a transplant urgently. In just a few moments, Alyssa’s life was changed forever.
Like most of us, Tracy had no medical training. “To me,” she explains, “everything they said meant she was going to die. I’d gone from having a perfect baby that morning to this.
"Everyone around me just kept talking about how ill she was and I couldn’t believe it. It was the most sombre and harrowing experience of my life.”
The long wait is over
Doctors think that Alyssa had biliary atresia, a rare childhood liver disease, from birth, day-by-day causing irreversible liver damage. It is likely that she was in a lot of pain as a baby because of her illness, but she is a tough cookie now.
For six weeks, the family waited for a transplant. At 7am one day, they got a call and an ambulance collected Alyssa fifteen minutes later.
“Giving her over to the doctors was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” adds Tracy.
Miraculously, in a 12-hour long surgery, doctors were able to use part of a 30-year-old’s liver to replace Alyssa’s damaged organ. Although the yellowing on Alyssa’s body went away almost straight away, the major surgery affected her development.
To stop her body from rejecting the liver, Alyssa must take medication for the rest of her life and have regular blood tests. The medication weakens her immune system and makes her more susceptible to illness.
Paying it forward
Tracy says, “Alyssa’s illness has taught our family to take every opportunity in life. When you go through something like this you become appreciative of the smallest things and take every day as it comes.
"Her dad and I have taken a real interest in the medical research around biliary atresia and liver transplants. Alyssa was part of a treatment trial and now we go to seminars and do everything we can to help advance the treatment options.
"I’m doing a 10k run to raise money for Make-A-Wish with a few family members. Alyssa will be there cheering me on and her older brother is doing the children’s 2k race too!”
“Without charities like Make-A-Wish, life would be even more tough for families with children facing serious illnesses. We hope Alyssa’s wish will give our whole family an escape. Even just getting out of the hospital can be a big task for some families, so to do something totally extraordinary and for that one day just be like any other family, that’s amazing.”
You can help grant Alyssa’s One True Wish to share a hot chocolate with Santa in Lapland and meet all his snowdog huskies!
Sponsor Alyssa’s wish and give her the chance to leave behind the realities of medication and hospital appointments and focus on the wonder, hope and magic of a Christmas wish in Lapland.