Jillian's heartfelt wish to swim with dolphins: #MyLifeNow

Some people start their lives in dramatic fashion, just like Jillian did back in 1993, when she had open-heart surgery when she was just 30 hours old. Born with a congenital, often-fatal, heart defect called hypoplastic left heart (HLHS) syndrome, it meant Jillian was born with a heart that formed with no left ventricle. Jillian had to endure three surgeries in the first few years of life.

Aside from the surgeries, Jillian remembers having many, many tests throughout her childhood to monitor her condition. But there was a moment in time that shifted Jillian’s attention away from her medical situation.

“In January of 2009, I was [referred] by one of the clinic nurses, to have a wish from Make-A-Wish! I was so excited. I wished for a trip to Hawaii to swim with dolphins. In July of 2009, my wish came true. My family and I set off on the trip of a lifetime to Honolulu, Hawaii. We had an amazing week. We snorkelled with turtles, we sailed on a catamaran, we went to a wonderful luau, we had an incredible hotel.”

On July 25th, 2009, her most exciting day of all took place.  “I got to swim with dolphins at Sea Life Park!”

The only hitch in the plan was that she broke her ankle six weeks before her trip! While she had no cast on by the time she went on her wish trip, she did have to cart some crutches around!

“I was 16 years old when I had my wish granted, Jillian recently recalled. “Choosing a wish wasn’t hard at all. I knew I always wanted to swim with dolphins and going to Hawaii was the perfect place. It meant so much for me to have my wish granted. I was so happy when we got the phone call.”

Ten years later, Jillian is going strong and still pays attention to the work of Make-A-Wish.

“Make-A-Wish is amazing and I love seeing stories on other kids wishes being granted.”

As for what Jillian is up to nowadays, she says she works as a “full-time nanny, Monday to Friday and sometimes on weekends, so I am very busy. I look after so many greats kids that I feel like they are all my own.”

Jillian continues to need monitoring for her hearth condition, but says that “Everything is going great… I go to St Paul’s in Vancouver BC once a year to get my yearly checkup and whenever I see my cardiologist he always tells me everything looks great and that he will see me in a year. I usually get a holter monitor on in May once a year for 24 hours.”

Outside of her work as a nanny, Jillian loves to bake, enjoys wine, likes to sew (she’s quite the quilter!) and she’s had the chance to do a bit more travelling in her adulthood, too!

“Thank you all so much for making my dream come true, and for working to help other children have wishes!”

Thank YOU, Jillian, for sharing your story with us!

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