Maitlyn was just a normal little girl, enjoying life as a triplet, doing normal 10 year old things, that is until she suddenly became ill on a trip to Dollywood. Soon after, Maitlyn was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease. Her life was turned upside-down as she went from a young girl that loved swimming and playing with her sisters to spending her time in and out of the hospital for treatment.
Maitlyn was thrilled to get out of school a week early and head to the Smoky Mountains with her two sisters (she's a triplet!), her mom and her dad, and a large group of her extended family. She doesn't remember much of her trip, however, except that was when she got "sick". Following the trip, Maitlyn would spend the next four months in the ICU due to a rare kidney disorder. She was put to sleep 10 times in 2 weeks for different procedures. Jennifer, Maitlyn's mom, recalls not knowing if they would ever get to leave the ICU, "I just remember thinking I would do anything to make it stop. One particular night, all I remember is leaning against the wall and falling to the floor. There was nothing I could do for her".
Thankfully, after four months, Maitlyn was finally released from the ICU. After that, she would be at the hospital every day for dialysis. It was when she was cleared to do home dialysis that her family first was approached about Make-A-Wish. "I has always known the name, but I thought it was only for terminally ill children that were dying. I freaked out, I told the social worker that my baby was not that sick," said Jennifer. Jennifer then was convinced by others that this was a necessity, and it was not just for terminally ill children. Their nurse told them, "I saw what ya'll went through, you need this, you need this as a family".
Maitlyn and her sisters could not contain their excitement. They brainstormed for days what her wish would be. Maitlyn decided that she wanted to go back to the Smoky Mountains. "I wanted to go back to the Smoky Mountains and enjoy a trip. That is where I got sick, and I don't remember anything from it."
When approached by her Make-A-Wish wish granters, Maitlyn had her wish already picked out. She wished to go back to Dollywood! After a miserable trip the year before, Maitlyn wished to go back and actually enjoy the trip and have fun with her family. On July 14,2014, Maitllyn, her mom, dad and two sisters hopped in the car and drove t the Smoky Mountains. They arrived at Wilderness at the Smokies Lodge. The hotel is filled with indoor and outdoor water parks, rock climbing walls, and lots of fun activities. The family enjoyed day trips to the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, and the most importantly Dollywood.
"Maitlyn's mom thanked Make-A-Wish for the "much needed family time" after they had returned from teh trip. "We NEEDED this family time," said Jennifer, "When we got there, I was able to leave everything behind. I didn't have to worry if Maitlyn was okay, if she had enough medicine, etc. The constant 'Maitlyn's got a kidney disease' fear that always hung over my head was out of sight, out of mind."
Jennifer and her husband's hearts were filled with joy as they were able to see their three daughters enjoy quality time together. While Maitlyn was in the ICU, one sister lived with a grandmother, and the other sister had to live with an aunt. Everyone's lives were completely flipped upside down. This trip was a chance for the family to be together, and it gave them normalcy.