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“I wish to meet DanTDM”
12 years old, Plymouth
End-stage renal failure
A heart condition and kidney failure have landed 12-year-old Connor in hospital multiple times. Since he was born, Connor has undergone four open heart surgeries. But the world of gaming gives Connor ‘a place to escape to’ as mum Jo told us. Having watched all his videos, Connor is a mega fan of gaming YouTuber DanTDM. That’s why his wish to meet DanTDM was ‘the best thing he had ever done’ as Mum told us.
Connor was born with pulmonary atresia - a heart defect causing poor blood flow to the lungs. At just a few days old, Connor had undergone the first of four open heart surgeries. Whilst undergoing his fourth surgery in July of 2020, Connor’s kidneys started failing. ‘He has stage 3 chronic kidney disease. So he'll have to have a kidney transplant and heart surgery throughout his life,’ said Dad Duncan. Not only will Connor have to undergo one invasive surgery, but two.
In the summer of 2020, kidney failure led to Connor spending seven weeks in hospital. Meanwhile, the world was in the middle of a pandemic. 'He was on dialysis. Our whole world changed,’ said Mum. During this time, only Mum could stay in the hospital with Connor. ‘Duncan couldn’t come in.
After his kidneys began to fail, Connor’s appetite diminished. As Mum told us, ‘He was so tiny and frail. He had a small appetite before his kidneys failed, so he lost a lot of weight. A heart condition and Kidney failure has majorly impacted Connor’s energy levels. 'He can't keep up with other children’, said Mum.
But resilient Connor is still keen to get out and do all the things his mates do, like playing his favourite sport, basketball. As mum told us ‘He doesn't let anything get in his way, he cracks on with everything, no matter how poorly he is’. But when Connor is too tired to go out, the world of gaming and DanTDM videos provides comfort and entertainment.
The gaming universe also allows Connor to sustain his relationships with his mates when he's unable to venture outside: ‘It's good to play with my friends online because sometimes I can't meet with them in person, it means I don’t lose my friendship with someone.’
Gaming also allows the family to spend time together, something that they missed out on during Connor’s 7-week hospital stay. As dad told us ‘It allows us as a family to do stuff.’
‘I picked to meet Dan because he's my favourite youtuber’ exclaimed Connor, ‘I watch him all the time! I grew up watching him!’ From the age of five, Connor has watched every video that DanTDM has put out. ‘he’s an expert,’ said Mum. Dan’s videos also give Connor a wealth of knowledge on all things gaming: ‘I sometimes even build things that he builds in Minecraft!’
During his hospital stay, Connor would bring his iPad and Nintendo Switch with him. Gaming during this time was, in Mum’s words, ‘a godsend. It gave him an escape whilst he was on dialysis.’ But when Connor’s condition left him too tired to pick up his switch, DanTDM’s videos were there to give him a world of respite.
‘Nothing has ever touched Connor the way meeting DanTDM did,’ said Mum. After spending weeks in hospital with kidney failure and undergoing several open heart surgeries, his wish was more than well deserved- it was necessary. As Dad said, ‘Connor’s been through such a tough time growing up. These glimmers of excitement, pieces of fun, mean so much to us as a family.’.
For Connor, talking to Dan about gaming was the highlight of the wish- ‘Me and Duncan don’t know much about gaming, so it was great for him to talk about the topic with his idol!’ said Mum. Connor also spoke about Pokémon with Dan, who later popped into WHSmith to surprise Connor with some Pokémon cards. ‘We were blown away,’ said Mum, ‘Thank you just didn’t seem to do it.’
The impact of Connor's wish
The memories formed from Connor’s wish will stay with him forever. Connor’s smile now beams ear to ear when he talks about his wish, which as Mum told us, he does a lot. ‘It was the best thing he’s ever done- he talks about it all the time.’.
‘These wishes give them a memory to hold onto through horrid times. It's something so positive, something that they really want, is magical’, said Mum ‘No amount of money could have bought Connor’s wish. We would never be able to have done what Make-A-Wish did for our boy. For that, we’re incredibly grateful.’
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