There are certain organizations that bring joy to the lives of children with life-threatening illnesses. 

When Braydy Abbott was just 24 hours old, she was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit to be treated for pneumonia. Soon after, it was discovered that Braydy was profoundly deaf and, at just 13 months old, Braydy underwent a bilateral cochlear implantation. Both her family and doctors were extremely pleased with her progress and yet, as Braydy grew, she was plagued by persistent and seemingly unrelated ailments.

Braydy was just four years old when a bone marrow biopsy finally revealed the cause of her myriad ailments and profound deafness. She was diagnosed with Emberger Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder associated with a greatly increased risk of acute myeloid leukemia. The only cure would be a successful bone marrow transplant.

The reality of the struggle

“It’s definitely taken its toll on my husband and me,” says Braydy’s mother, Danielle Abbott. “We’ve had to put on a strong face every day.”

The search for a matching bone marrow donor was long and arduous but eventually paid off and, after numerous rounds of chemotherapy and enforced periods of intense isolation both in hospital and at home, Braydy underwent the bone marrow transplant. The recovery process was grueling.

“When your days are dark, it’s hard to get out of bed,” says Danielle. “It’s hard to find something to look forward to when you’re faced with tragedy like that.” Remaining strong and optimistic for their girls kept Danielle and her husband, Jamie, going but adequate support was vital.

Children with life-threatening illnesses and their families require multi-faceted support, whether that be from expert healthcare providers at hospitals such as SickKids or from friends and loved ones who bolster a family during their time of need. Crucial support also comes from charitable organizations that assist, educate and advocate for sick children and their families.

Supporting children and families

“People don’t realize how important these organizations are. The blood and donor services saved Braydy’s life,” says Danielle. “So many children depend on them to stay alive. If it wasn’t for them, Braydy wouldn’t be with us today.”

Another organization that has worked closely with Braydy is The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada which helps by granting the heartfelt wish of a child with a life-threatening illness. Braydy has long dreamt of visiting Hawaii and going hula dancing with her entire family, and the Children’s Wish Foundation is working tirelessly to make that wish come true.

“When you’re in a heart-breaking situation, it’s just nice to have something positive to look forward to,” says Danielle. “And for some families, these will be among the last memories they make with their kids,” says Danielle.

The work that charities such as The Children’s Wish Foundation do is more than just granting children a wish. They help children with life-threatening illnesses and their families escape the grim reality of their situation. The Children’s Wish Foundation came into Braydy’s life at a time when she and her family needed something positive to focus on.

“When you’re in a heart-breaking situation, it’s just nice to have something positive to look forward to.”

“To think that one day, we’ll be able to be on the beach together as a family and there won’t be any blood transfusions or chemotherapy or blood-work or needles or any of these things that children should never have to endure,” says Danielle.

“That’s a nice thought.”

Brighter days ahead

Two days before Braydy’s fifth birthday, her parents received news that Braydy was in full remission. “She went off to school this month with no tears,” says Danielle. “She was ready to go and just be a kid again.”

“When people donate their time or money, they should know that they truly are making a difference,” she says. “They’re helping kids who deserve it. They’re helping children to live and to enjoy their life.”