It became clear that something was wrong, but it would be almost three years before he received a diagnosis of aplastic anemia. The condition occurs when the body stops producing enough new blood cells and leaves you feeling fatigued and with a higher risk of infections and uncontrolled bleeding.
“I missed school a lot,” said Jason. “I’d get tired a lot and would need to take naps throughout the day. Even my friends noticed that my face was getting pale.”
Rex said, “Pretty much everything he was into he was no longer allowed to do. No sports. He became an indoors kid.”
At 14, Jason’s platelet counts fell dangerously low and he was immediately put on a bone marrow transplant list. As there was no match in his family, they waited three months to find an anonymous donor. Shortly after his transplant, his doctor and social worker at Children’s Hospital LA referred him to Make-A-Wish. His condition, however, took a turn for the worse. It was a low point for the family who thought he might need a follow-up transplant.
During that time, Jason thought a lot about his wish, which kept his spirits up. He is a “New Year’s baby” – born January 1, 2000 – and he dreamed of visiting New York City to see the ball drop on his birthday. He saw it as the finish line after an eight-year battle and an incredible way to celebrate his 18th birthday, reflect on his journey and look positively to the future.
Over the following year, Jason’s health stabilized, and he was finally cleared by his medical team for his wish.
It was especially cold in NYC for this amazing SoCal family, but they absolutely loved their time in the Big Apple. On their first day, they visited Katz’s Deli and ate pastrami on rye sandwiches. Jason found it particularly amusing that he got to sit in the spot where “When Harry Met Sally” was filmed. He also loved being on top of the Empire State Building and seeing the entire city below, Brooklyn in the distance and the Statue of Liberty. The highlight of the trip was, of course, New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Dave and Buster’s hosted the family at a VIP party and they got a behind the scenes tour of the famous mirrored ball from Dick Clark Productions. Rex recalled that snow fell as they went to see the ball, which made the experience truly magical for them.
“We were having dinner for his birthday when it really clicked, the purpose of the trip,” said Rex. “For a week we forgot that he was sick. Everything was taken care of for us.”
After they returned home, they continued to feel the impact of a wish. “His platelet counts were just ok until December,” continued Rex. “But after our trip, his numbers jumped. The nurse practitioner came running into the room and was so surprised. His platelets had been around 50K for a good portion of the year. After the trip they were at 90K! It was an incredible change. It had to be the trip. We can’t explain why his counts went up so drastically, but I do know that the wish trip created all this unabashed joy. We were there just pinching ourselves. I have video of my son dancing in Central Park.”