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The Impact of a Wish

More than Medicine

When children are battling a critical illness, so much of normal childhood is taken away from them — it is exhausting, both emotionally and physically. A Wish is something that gives kids the opportunity to look outside their illness — it restores a sense of childhood back to the child and normalcy back to the family.

Research shows, and physicians agree, wishes can help improve a child's quality of life and produce better health outcomes. Members of the Make-A-Wish Medical Advisory Committee share the life-changing impact wishes have — beyond just medicine — on their patients and their families.

It isn't always necessary to cure in order to heal. ”

— James B. Fahner, MD, FAAP Chair, Make-A-Wish Medical Advisory Council

Why Wishes Matter

Israel Wish StudyIn 2015, Make-A-Wish Israel conducted a study to measure how wish-granting experiences influence medical outcomes of children with critical illnesses. The results revealed wishes not only increased hope, they also improved the children's physical and emotional health. The wishes made the impossible, possible — helping children replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

We don’t grant wishes for short-term smiles. We grant wishes to positively impact long-term health results*.

Make-A-Wish was the subject of a study to measure how wish-granting experiences influence the medical outcomes of children with cancer. Sixty-six children were evaluated using three different verified, respected, widely used assessment tools. The tools quantify hope, positive emotions, health-related quality of life and anxiety. 

“It is possible that wishing enabled these children to dream about that seemed unobtainable, out of reach, and thus created an experience of achieving the impossible,” researchers wrote.

And if the impossible can happen once, kids can believe in their ability to live with or even overcome their illnesses. That’s the real purpose of a wish. 

Learn more about how Make-A-Wish is helping children improve their emotional health more visibly and successfully than any other organization.


*Shoshani, A. Mifano, K. Czamanski-Cohen, J. (2015). The effects of the Make a Wish intervention on psychiatric symptoms and health-related quality of life of children with cancer: a randomized controlled trial. Quality of Life Research, 25(5), 1209-1218. doi 10.1007/s11136-015-1148-7


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