For the past four years, Autumn has spent a few hours every three weeks having a blood transfusion for her life-threatening Diamond-Blackfan anemia. Each transfusion carried with it the risk of cancer and organ failure, eventually leading her doctors to share that the only cure for Autumn would be a bone marrow transplant. With that diagnosis, Autumn also found out she qualified for Make-A-Wish.
“We were not sure that being referred to Make-A-Wish Arizona was a good thing,” said Lavonna, Autumn’s mom. “We had to wrap our minds around the reality that Autumn had a life-threatening, critical illness.”
Autumn was indecisive during her initial visit with her wish granter volunteers. After all, she was choosing a wish experience that would be her one true wish.
“I knew I wanted to travel, but I had to think about it for a while. I thought maybe Greece, but ultimately I chose Hawaii, because our family always talked about wanting to go there,” said Autumn.
“My wish made the next few months of treatment easier,” continued Autumn. “I would tell myself during treatments that if I can only get through a couple more days, a couple more weeks, I get to go on an amazing trip and be at the beach.”
Autumn, along with and her mom, sister, and stepdad were picked up in a limo for the start of her wish. They flew to Hawaii and enjoyed seeing Pearl Harbor, going on a turtle tour, and of course, spending lots of time at the beach.
Autumn’s trip was made extra special when she was surprised by her older brother Austin, who joined the family from California. Austin, a starting offensive tackle for the University of Southern California football team, not only requested special permission to be on the wish trip – he was also going to be Autumn’s bone marrow donor.
“When you have a kid with a critical illness, finances can be tight. Autumn’s wish gave us a great break from reality that made us feel more like a normal family because not everyone gets to go on a big family vacation,” said Lavonna. “Her brother Austin even left football training at USC to spend three days with us for Autumn’s wish. You could tell that meant a lot to her.”
“For all the times she’s been poked and the hospitalizations and doctors, I was so happy to see Autumn smile and the attention to be on her for something good,” Lavonna continued.
Autumn and the family returned from her wish trip rested, rejuvenated and ready to tackle the bone marrow transplant together. Thankfully, the transplant was a success.
“She has been stable so far with doctor’s appointments once or twice a week to check on everything and other measures to keep her as healthy as possible post-transplant. As long as her body continues to accept the bone marrow, she is cured of Diamond-Blackfan anemia,” Lavonna said.
Today, instead of hours at the hospital every three weeks, Autumn is looking to the future. She aspires to become an esthetician and one day open her own business.
“My wish trip was just what I needed before the procedure and it really made me feel good to have my whole family concentrating on having fun and being happy instead of worrying about me,” said Autumn.