“Dr.” Madison Burton
photo: Stu Opperman/Impact Players

Given the chance to be a Make-a-Wish recipient, most kids ask for day at Disney, or a chance to meet their favorite sports or rock star.  But for Madison Burton, it was fulfilling a unique lifelong dream of becoming a cardiac surgeon.

So on October 10,  the 17-year-old, who is fighting Crohn’s disease, scrubbed up and joined cardiac surgeon Dr. Frank Scholl, the hospital’s chief of pediatric & congenital heart surgery, on his daily rounds at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.  She later had the chance to be there when he consulted with the medical staff before prepping for surgery, and to “be part of the operating room team” as Dr. Scholl performed a surgical procedure.

While she of course did not actually take part in the surgery, she was able to spend the day shadowing the cardiac surgeon as he made his rounds and see exactly how he works and what he does during the course of a work day.

The Make-A-Wish program grants wishes for kids and teens who are facing critical illnesses.  Make-A-Wish Southern Florida has granted more than 11,000 life-changing wishes since 1983. Its goal is to grant a wish for every medically-eligible child in its territory.

“We do this to help the children” said Richard Kelly, chief operating officer of the Make-A-Wish Southern Florida. “We have had young people perform as extras in movies, meet with celebrities or other fun activities. Our most common wish is to go to Disney World.”

Wish kids most often ‘wish to be’ (something), ‘wish to meet’ (someone), ‘wish to go’ (somewhere), or ‘wish to have’ (something) and the nonprofit organization makes this happen for the child and his/her entire family at no cost or obligation.  The activities are always fun and designed to provide some relief to the young people as well as to their families.

The Make-A-Wish Southern Florida territory includes 22 counties/four regions in southeast and southwest Florida, Tampa Bay, and the Suncoast (Sarasota area). It also includes the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Madison’s mom has reported that Madison is doing really well and that the wish experience was overwhelmingly positive,  and way more than she expected. The teams at Make-A-Wish and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital really went above and beyond to make this special, and Madison really bonded with Dr. Frank Scholl, the cardiac surgeon she shadowed and who took her under his wing.