NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Everyone has heard of sick kids being granted a wish: a special trip, meeting their sports hero, being a fireman for a day.
Beyond just putting a smile on a child’s face, a granted wish can actually make a child healthier, reports CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez.
There’s a difference in Cimone Stills’ smile these days. A year ago, Cimone was struggling daily with severe epilepsy.
“She had lots of daily seizures,” said Dr. Anup Patel of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “They were really impacting her life. She had a hard time staying in school. She had a hard time learning. She had a hard time just doing anything.”
Cimone was granted a special wish she’d had for a while: “My wish was to go to Paris.”
The trip was fabulous but more importantly, her family discovered something.
“When we went on the trip, she had no seizures, and I cannot explain it,” said Tonisha Stills, Cimone’s mother.
“Ever since I left Paris, I feel like there’s always been a smile on my face,” said Cimone.
The girl wasn’t just happier, she was healthier.
“We’ve been able to actually get rid of some of her treatments,” said Patel, who has seen similar improvements in other patients who were granted wishes.
“They were more engaged in their treatment,” he said. “They were having less seizures. They were doing better, and I started to get the question on, is there something more here?”
He studied more than 1,000 seriously ill children and found that those granted wishes were more than twice as likely to have fewer hospital stays and reduced healthcare costs over a two year period.
“You, (a.) give a great experience. you (b.) get to provide this potential savings down the road,” said Patel.
“I have my daughter back,” said mom Stills. “There’s no amount of money…that you can put on that.”
While a granted wish isn’t a cure, researchers say more work needs to be done to learn why wishes seem to have such a positive impact on health.
There much more to learn about the biology of hope.