Can Make-A-Wish grant better health? Research says yes

How many children battling serious, chronic illness have closed their eyes and fervently wished for better health? Some preliminary research indicates that their wishes may be granted. But that’s what Make-A-Wish does.

“We’ve known anecdotally about the transformational power of a wish, and now a first-of-its-kind study is opening the door to possibilities of medical and financial benefits,” said Carin Buckman of the Trumbull-based Make-A-Wish CT.

In a first-of-its-kind study, Nationwide Children’s Hospital examined quality of life and health care utilization among patients who received a wish and a control group who did not. The study found patients who were granted a wish were more likely to have fewer unplanned hospital and emergency department visits, Buckman said.

The study inspired doctors to use a wish as part of their treatment plans for children.

“Wishes can give their patients hope, build compliance with care and potentially give their patients a better chance at reducing time spent in the hospital,” she said. “Wishes have the possibility to give kids the hope and strength they need to fight harder. For children who are battling a critical illness, a wish can give them and their families the chance to believe anything is possible.”

With September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Make-A-Wish is celebrating state children who have been battling cancer. Nationally, about 40% of children who have their wishes granted are facing some form of cancer.

Hannah Sousa of Southington is one of those. The 17-year-old soccer fanatic was diagnosed with leukemia last year and in late July, following 18 months of treatments, Hannah and her family went on a European cruise, including a visit to her father’s family in Portugal.

“After a year and a half of battling, she was granted her wish to go on a Mediterranean cruise where she could relax, sight-see, visit beautiful beaches and enjoy lots of delicious food with her family,” Buckman said. “What her illness stole from her, her wish offered to bring back.”