Mary Berth remembers all too clearly the moment she was told that at only 22 weeks in-utero, her unborn baby Ann Louise had Critical Aortic Stenosis. “Honestly, our happy little world just fell apart” Mary Beth said. At 23 weeks, in-utero, Ann Louise had fetal heart surgery to dilate her aortic valve and restore blood flow to her heart. Though the surgery was a success, complications with the pregnancy caused Mary Beth to give birth to Ann Louise four and a half weeks before her due date.
In her short little life, Ann Louise has had three open heart surgeries to replace heart valves. Having to see cardiologists in Greenville, SC and Boston four times a year has made it seem as though the hospital was Ann Louise’s second home. Simple colds have turned into cases of pneumonia, and Ann Louise had to be fed out of a feeding tube to make sure that she gets the maximum amount of nutrients that she needs. But Ann Louise has not been the only member of the family to suffer. Mary Beth had to miss her son Graham’s 5th and 6th birthday, as well as her other son Reed’s 3rd birthday. “I thought I would lose my mind, I wanted so desperately for us to be together. I will spend the rest of my life making it up to my boys,” Mary Beth says.
When Ann Louise’s family came in contact with Make-A-Wish® things finally began to look up. Three-year-old Ann Louise knew precisely what her wish would be… to go to Disney World to “ride in tea cups and love on Mickey”.
The trip to Disney World would be the family’s first trip to anywhere other than the hospitals up in Boston since Ann Louise was born. To make sure that Ann Louise could enjoy her trip to the fullest, Mary Beth and Andrew encouraged Ann Louise to try to eat without the assistance of the feeding pump so that “she could grow big and strong to ride teacups and visit with Mickey.” Determined to try, Ann Louise started eating and did not have to feed through a feeding pump the entire week at Disney. But the “magic” of Disney did not stop there… “When we returned, we still did not have to use her feeding pump. Ann Louise ate enough on her own. For the first time in 3 years she was eating enough on her own. She started taking all of her medications, by mouth, too” Mary Beth said. A week before her 4th birthday, Ann Louise’s feeding tube was completely removed.
The impact of a wish is enormous in the lives of a wish family. Ann Louise and her family will forever remember the positive turning point that her wish played on her life.