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HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Parrish Auzenne kisses a dolphin during his trip to the Atlantis Resort, Bahamas, where the Make-a-Wish Foundation sent him, along with his family, to experience his dream of swimming with the dolphins. Auzenne was born with a life-threatening congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome that required him to have three open heart surgeries by age three. (Courtesy photo)
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Hanscom child’s wish comes true

Posted 4/4/2013   Updated 4/4/2013 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Foster
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

4/4/2013 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- When Ashley Auzenne and her husband, Murvin, found out they were pregnant with their first child, they were thrilled with the news and excited about the adventures the future would hold for their growing family. That excitement quickly turned to concern, however, when they found out their son would be born with a severe form of a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. The condition occurs in 1 out of every 10,000 births and without medical intervention, is 100 percent fatal.

Their son, Parrish, was born in May 2008 and had his first open heart surgery at just seven days old. According to Auzenne, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome basically means he was born with half a heart, as the left ventricle that pumps blood to the body never formed. This leaves his smaller right chamber to do all the work.

Parrish had his second surgery at five months old and his last surgery to date just after his third birthday.

"Parrish has been on medication since the minute he was born, but he doesn't let that stop him," said Auzenne. "He loves life, and people who read his medical file before meeting him are in disbelief when they do see him because he is so happy and running around everywhere."

Auzenne wanted to do something special for her son and reached out to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. According to www.wish.org, any child with a life-threatening medical condition between the ages of two and a half and 18 are potentially eligible for a wish.

"The first time Make-a-Wish came to ask Parrish what he would wish for, he said he wanted to see a dragon at a volcano," said Auzenne, "but seeing as that wasn't possible, he said he would like to swim with dolphins on an island."

After speaking to the family, Make-a-Wish reviews the child's request, speaks with medical professionals regarding their health and then begins the process of choosing a well-fit adventure.

After cryptically being asked if the family minded traveling internationally, they applied for their passports with no knowledge of where they would be going and patiently waited for the next step.

After the wait was over and they finally had their passports in hand, the family was told they would be going to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. They were shocked and excited about the news.

"There are so many places here in the states we figured we would go," Auzenne said. "But they wanted to make it as special as possible since they knew he loves all things involving the ocean and marine life."

Ashley, Murvin, Parrish and their three-year-old daughter, Eleanor, started digging out their summer clothes to prepare for the five day trip. When the day finally arrived, a limousine picked up the family and dropped them off at the airport. Lincoln, the couple's eleven-month-old son, did not join the family as he was too young to fully enjoy the upcoming adventure.

Before the trip, the family had been going through a lot of medical testing and it had been a particularly stressful time in their lives. Auzenne explained she was initially worried at how overwhelmed she was feeling because her son receiving his wish was so bittersweet.

"When we got to the dolphin encounter and checked in as the 'Wish family,' the manager asked about his condition and relayed a story involving another family. The part that stuck out for me was when she explained that they were here to celebrate life and all they had overcome," Auzenne said. "When Parrish was in the water and so happy--the whole week, just constantly being amazed and excited by everything around him--that joy on his face, in that moment, was the best for me."

Parrish and his family spent the week relaxing and relishing in the time together and when asked what his favorite moment of the trip was, his response was not surprising: feeding Kelly, the dolphin.

"We say he is our little miracle because, medically speaking, if we had not known before he arrived about his condition, he wouldn't be in our arms today," Auzenne said. "But with his fighting spirit and our family advocating and fighting alongside him, he has been doing the best that we could have hoped for."

She explained that if someone has a child with a life threatening or terminal medical condition, they should not hesitate to contact Make-a-Wish. Her advice to other families going through similar situations is simple.

"You only get one wish, so reach for the stars and see what may come!"

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