“I wish to feed the tigers”
8 years old, High Wycombe
When Stanley was born, his mum Karen noticed that he had blue hands and feet. Doctors told her not to worry but she went back to the doctors when he was two weeks old because she was still concerned as his lips sometimes went blue when he was feeding. After lots of tests, Karen and her partner Paul were told that the arteries of his heart were the wrong way round.
Stanley had corrective open-heart surgery when he was just four weeks old. Things seemed good but when he was a toddler he was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (a rare, progressive condition which means the right side of his heart has to work hard to be effective). He was fitted with a special backpack, which he has to wear all the time, when he was three and a half. This contains a pump and intravenous line to filter medication into his system. Karen has become something of a nurse and she spends half an hour each morning changing and refilling the pump. If the backpack’s alarm goes off, it means the pump needs to be refilled quickly - within a few minutes - so it needs to be closely monitored by one of his parents all the time.
He visits Great Ormond Street Hospital every eight weeks and big boxes of medication are delivered to his house every month. Always imaginative, Stanley uses these boxes to create space stations and other toys.
All this is situation normal for Stanley and you wouldn’t know that he’s wearing his medicine pack. He even has a special dry suit so he can wear it to go swimming. The only difference is that Stanley sometimes gets breathless and can’t play contact sports at school so he’s taken up golf, which he loves playing with his dad.
When his family turned to Make-A-Wish, it was clear that Stanley's love for tigers would be paramount. He showed his wish visitors Gabby and Michaela pictures of tigers that he’d drawn, all his tiger toys and also his tiger-shaped golf club cover! They looked at online videos together and Stanley was so excited at the idea of seeing real tigers close up.
He chose for his wish to feed some real tigers somewhere in the UK and asked if his best mate Morgan could join him for the experience.
Wishgranters Vicky and Becky got to work researching his wish and discovered that Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve in Kent has lion, rhino, giraffe, wolf and tiger lodges that are glass-fronted so Stanley, his family and his friend could stay overnight at the park and safely watch the tigers up close whenever they wanted.
Stanley was so excited that he was up at 5.30 one morning telling his mum there were only seven sleeps to go until the day of his wish!
When he arrived, he was blown away by the experience. He got the chance to feed the tigers in their enclosure and, of course, he and Morgan wore tiger onesies throughout the day! He also enjoyed having his wish filmed for Channel 5’s documentary "Make A Wish for Christmas" which was broadcast on 18th December 2019.
How Stanley's wish helped
Afterwards, Stanley’s Mum Karen told us: “Wow! That was just the most amazing time we had at Port Lympne. The lodge was amazing and seeing the tigers right outside the window took our breath away.
“We were treated like VIPs for the whole time. Stanley loved riding on the back of the golf buggy with his friend Morgan and seeing all the animals.
“We fed the llamas, giraffes and the best part of the whole trip was feeding the tigers. It was beyond amazing! Stanley had the time of his life (we all did!) For us as parents to see Stanley’s reaction to everything was just the best feeling."
"Having this wish to look forward to for the last few months has been so exciting and now that it’s over we have a lifetime of just the most amazing memories of the last few days."
“Everyone at Port Lympne was fantastic with us. They are all so passionate about the animals they take care of and they gave us so much information about the animals we fed and visited. Thank you so, so much from all of us to Make-A-Wish for the most amazing time and for making Stanley's wish come true.”
Stanley will need further surgery to fit a stent over the coming year so we wish him all the very best as he undergoes another complex procedure.
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