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At the early age of one-and-a-half, Lauren was diagnosed with an urea cycle disorder (a type of genetic disorder) and missed out on much of her childhood. While other kids had play dates at the park, she spent a great portion of her early years in a hospital room.
When Lauren was a baby, her parents began noticing that she appeared lethargic. At first, doctors had a difficult time diagnosing her condition. In many cases, this type of genetic disorder can go unnoticed for some time.
Urea cycle disorders make it difficult for a child to digest proteins properly. Once diagnosed, Lauren was constantly monitored and placed on a strict diet. Her disorder eventually led to liver damage and she required a life-saving liver transplant. In the search for a donor, Lauren’s father was found to be a match and in 2007, Lauren underwent liver transplant surgery.
In hopes of lifting her daughter’s spirits, Lauren’s mother organized a visit with Make-A-Wish. Lauren was relaxing at home, when her mother announced, “you have visitors.” When the volunteer wish granters asked Lauren to draw out her wish, she expressed her dream of meeting a real fairy godmother and princess at Walt Disney World® Resort.
Lauren’s wish to go to Walt Disney World® Resort was granted in March 2008. On her wish day, a limo was waiting outside her home to escort Lauren and her family to the airport. On the plane, it was arranged for Lauren to meet with the pilot, making the wish journey that much more memorable. Lauren wished to experience the entire theme park, and she did just that!
Lauren’s wish brought her entire family closer. Not only was she able to spend quality time with her parents, but she was able to share a new experience with her older brother, whom she missed dearly during her time in the hospital. Lauren’s wish changed her mindset. It gave her a glimpse into the life of a healthy young girl and made her believe that she can step away from the dark hospital room and be a regular kid. Following her experience, Lauren shared her story with high school students across Ontario to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation.
Eleven years later, Lauren is healthy and currently studying biochemistry at Queen’s University. She is also a clinical research student with the University Health Network, working with the Multi Organ Transplant Program. Following the completion of her undergraduate studies, Lauren plans to go to medical school, where she hopes to specialize in transplant surgery. She managed to take her difficult experience and turn it into an opportunity to learn more about the subject of her disorder, and how she can help others in similar situations.