Twelve-year-old Arley had his first open-heart surgery when he was just 13 days old; doctors told Arley’s mom he had just a five percent chance of surviving. Arley spent the first three months of his life in the hospital, and by age two, was scheduled for a second open-heart surgery.
Instead of playing and exploring the world around him, Arley’s days were filled with doctor appointments, pacemakers and too many trips to the hospital to count. The constant state of uncertainty continued when Arley’s heart failed during first grade. He missed most of school that year, but he always managed to keep a big smile on his face.
Last year, Arley went in to heart failure again. He needed major surgery that summer. Before his surgery, Arley was asked what he wanted more than anything in the world. He knew immediately: Arley wished to go to Hawaii with his family!
Arley and his family traveled to Hawaii for the trip of a lifetime. They swam in the ocean, played on the beach, went inside a submarine and attended a luau.
“We laughed so much and just really enjoyed being together,” said Angie, his mom. It was a special time for Arley and his family; a time for them to rejuvenate and not worry about the upcoming surgery.
After returning from his wish trip, Arley underwent his third open-heart surgery. A six-hour surgery turned in to 24 hours. “He almost died. It was the scariest thing we’ve ever been through,” said Angie.
The surgery was successful: Arley’s heart function is the best it has been. But he will still face several more heart surgeries and a lifetime of check-ups, doctor appointments and bloodwork.
Arley’s wish will continue to serve as a source of strength during these future challenges.
“Having his wish granted improved not only his attitude, but the whole family,” said Angie. She’s even noticed Arley is better about getting his bloodwork done since getting his wish.
Seven months later, and stable, Arley still thinks about his wish trip to Hawaii. His family talks about it all the time and they watch videos or look through the photos from his wish for encouragement.
Special thanks to wish-granting volunteers Paul Mader and Ann Means.