Physician Spotlight: A conversation with Linda Addonizio, MD, pediatric cardiologist and Professor of Pediatrics, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
In honor of American Heart Month, we sat down with Dr. Addonizio, an esteemed member of the Make-A-Wish Metro New York Medical Advisory Council, to talk about why wishes are part of her plan of care for her patients.
Q: Why do you think wishes are important to the children you treat?
A: When a child has a chronic condition, it can be a very dehumanizing experience. These kids are constantly submitting to procedures and treatments that can be painful and it can leave them with the feeling that they have no control over their lives. Often a chronically ill child can’t even imagine being well. But a wish is something they can imagine! They can visualize it, they can plan it and see it take shape. It’s different from wishing to be well – this is something tangible that they can have control over and make happen.
Q: What role can wishes play in the care of children with critical illnesses?
A: A wish can be a very useful tool for doctors. Chronically ill kids are so tired of talking about their health. So many times, they just shut down and it’s hard to assess how they’re really doing. But if there’s a wish in the mix, it’s all they can talk about. Whether it’s in the planning stages or after the fact, a wish will get a child to open up and allow us to get a sense of how they’re doing.
I find that wishes help the kids in my practice as much as many of the therapies we prescribe. The mind-body connection is so strong when it comes to healing. If a child is energized because of an upcoming wish, they might work harder at their other therapies to get back on their feet faster and get to their wish. Or if they’ve just come back from an incredible experience, they might be empowered to imagine what else might be possible for them in the future!
Dr. Addonizio began the Pediatric Cardiac Transplant Program in 1984 and is presently Director, Program for Pediatric Cardiomyopathy, Heart Failure & Transplantation at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York Presbyterian.
Wishes have proven physical and emotional benefits that can give children with critical illnesses a higher chance of survival.
In honor of the GRAMMY® Awards this Sunday, February 10, we’re throwing it back to a very special wish granted by one of music’s biggest superstars of all time. Tiffany Rowe describes how her wish to dance with Michael Jackson changed her forever.
I first became aware of the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 1988 when they showed up at my front door and asked what I wanted to wish for. My original prognosis was three to six months and it’s been 27 years! I have a history of severe idiopathic aplastic anemia which is basically complete bone marrow failure. I was diagnosed in 1984 at the age of 11. It entered a tenuous remission and relapsed freshman year in high school.
My wish was to dance with Michael Jackson. I’d grown up in dance, I’d been a dancer my whole life. I felt that the way he connected with the world and understood the world was through dance.
My Make-A-Wish volunteers were honest and said, “Gosh, okay, let’s see what we can do.” Then one day I was sitting in my high school lunchroom and the lights went down and the Man in the Mirror came over the PA system. A Michael Jackson impersonator came out in front of my whole lunch room and danced and lip-synced to Man in the Mirror and then presented me with the invitation to come to the concert.
Just a few weeks later we were on an airplane headed to Chicago…
We often say that a wish is only limited by the child’s imagination. Imagination is at the heart of everything we can accomplish together as a united community – to inspire, renew and encourage kids who are in the fight of their lives. I wish to go to Saturn? I wish to meet a unicorn? I wish to be in a Broadway show? The gifts of generous donors like Rockefeller Group give us the ability to make the impossible possible.
Since 2015, Rockefeller Group has raised nearly $300,000 through their Wishmakers at Work program to support life-changing wishes for children in Metro New York. Rockefeller Group partners with its employees, who are invited to make personal contributions to Make-A-Wish, and the impact has been outstanding.
Rockefeller Group is a proud champion of wish kids and wish kids are proud to have Rockefeller Group standing beside them in their fight. Wishes aren’t just a nice thing; they are a necessity. Research shows that wishes have proven physical and emotional benefits that can give children with critical illnesses a higher chance of survival. The Rockefeller Group team recently saw this proven power first hand when they volunteered to help grant Allie’s wish to sing on a stage in New York City. Make-A-Wish is thrilled to highlight the countless contributions that Rockefeller Group has provided over the years and we look forward to more opportunities to grant-life changing wishes together. Thank you for wishing with us, Rockefeller Group!