Braden is a friendly, easy-going kid. Like most boys his age, he enjoys playing video games and spending time with his friends. He also loves to collect Pokémon memorabilia and enjoys anime, a style of Japanese film and television animation. After growing ill, which was very rare for Braden, and starting to show signs of jaundice, Braden’s mom took him to the local children’s hospital to be evaluated.
In the hospital Braden received the life-altering news that his body was in liver failure and he would require a liver transplant. Within eight days of being admitted, Braden received his new liver. “He had never even had a blood draw up until I was concerned, and within a week, he had a major operation,” his mom said. “It was a scenario that we had never envisioned.”
Despite facing such a stressful ordeal, Braden kept a positive outlook throughout his recovery. At the end of his hospital stay, Braden came home with a seven-by-four box full of pills and a new, regimented lifestyle.
The traumatic experience and adjustment that followed was more than any 12-year-old should have to experience. Because of this, Braden’s social worker referred him to Make-A-Wish Utah—right away Braden knew he wanted his wish to be revolved around Pokémon. After doing his research, Braden decided he wanted to experience the culture of Japan and wished to travel there to tour the Pokémon Center Mega Tokyo (the largest Pokémon center in Japan). “This gave him an opportunity to really think beyond the limits of what we could do,” his mom said. “It’s not a country that I would have made a plan to go see. What it did for him was make this his wish and his experience, not a trip dictated by anyone else.”
Wanting to make the most of his time in Japan, Braden toured the Pokémon center on his first day in the country. “Right as we walked in, he saw signs and Poké balls and he was getting more and more excited,” said his mom. They spent hours in the center and Braden spent the rest of his trip experiencing Japanese culture.
Research shows that children who have wishes granted may experience improved quality of life and better health outcomes. Braden’s wish prompted an emotional transformation, giving him hope for a brighter future. “This wish showed him that even with a transplant and having to be more diligent about medication, his condition isn’t going to restrict his life,” said Braden’s mom. “He is still going to be able to do the things he wants to even though he had to go through all of this.”