When Sadie was born, she was blue in the face. The heart surgeries piled up quickly after that day: one at 8 months old, two more at 2 years old and another at 4 years old. Eight months in intensive care followed that fourth surgery. Between surgeries and recovery, Sadie spent half of her first four years confined to the hospital, but she hardly remembers any of it.
She’s heard the story of her congenital heart condition from her mom. Her mom, who visited Sadie in the hospital while working full-time and single-handedly taking care of Sadie’s healthy twin sister. Who worked and worried tirelessly.
“They didn’t expect me to live past a certain amount of time,” Sadie said. “They at first said a few months old, and then it became a year, and now I’m 25.”
Through all of it, Sadie’s mother was there.
It was Sadie’s mom who heard about Make-A-Wish from a coworker. When volunteers came to Sadie, they asked, if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Simply wanting to be with her family, Sadie answered with her grandma’s house. They laughed and asked for her second choice.
A year after that last open heart surgery, Sadie, joined by her mom, twin sister and grandma, traveled to Disneyland. The trip was no doubt packed with whimsical park rides, visits with Disney characters and magic. But Sadie says her greatest memory is just swimming in the resort’s pool with her family.
“I vividly remember being at the Disney resort … and going into the pool. I look at pictures of it all the time,” Sadie said. “It was a lot of good family time.”
Family time that didn’t involve hospitals or surgery or worry. The operations were behind them. The months-long hospital stays were over. Ahead of Sadie waited the rest of her life.
A Mother’s Heart
Sadie sits in the natal ICU, staring down at her son. He’s tiny amid all the machines and tubes surrounding him.
Because of her heart condition, Sadie was always told she couldn’t have children. She defied doctors’ predictions again and became a mother, but not before a rough, complicated pregnancy that set Sadie’s heart out of rhythm and led to another surgery. Her son was born at 34 weeks, weighing three pounds. For one harrowing month, Sadie experienced what her own mother went through during those first four years of Sadie’s life.
“I was on the phone with my mom one time when my son was in the hospital, and I was like, you don’t know what this feels like. And she said, oh, yes I do.”
Today, Sadie’s son is almost 2 years old. Her heart is no longer defined by her condition, but instead by her family and her love for her son. “It’s a true blessing to be a mother,” Sadie said. “I definitely don’t take anything for granted.”
Twenty years ago, someone referred Sadie for a wish and made her memorable family trip possible. Today, we still rely on referrals from caring individuals and need them more than ever to achieve our goal of making every eligible child’s wish come true. For more information, visit wish.org.
A special thanks to Disney, who has helped Make-A-Wish grant more than 88,000 wishes globally since the first official wish to go to the Disneyland 33 years ago.