Ryan Thompson sits on the ATV that was given to him by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah.
Krachell Greenwood with Utah's Make-A-Wish Foundation, along with Aaron Kimbell of ABC-4 News.
Shortly after Ryan Thompson received a liver transplant that gave him his only chance of surviving cancer, Ryan's social worker from the University Of Utah Medical Center turned his name into the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah. This foundation grants wishes to children between 2 Â½ and 18 years of age with life threatening illnesses.
The Make- A-Wish Foundation contacted Ryan and began their journey of helping Ryan to identify his "wish" and started working their magic to make his wish come true. Frank Nilson, Director of Program Services and Mike Lauder, Wish Manager for the foundation began the process by asking Ryan for his personal heartfelt answer to the question: "If you could go anywhere, meet anyone, have or be or experience anything, what would you choose? What would you do?"
Ryan's answer: "I would choose a 4-wheeler, a 2008 Outlander Max 800 Limited XT" to be precise.
Why a 4-wheeler they asked?
Well you see Ryan grew up riding 4-wheelers. His family owned three of them and they really enjoyed riding them. However, due to mounting medical costs incurred from Ryan's four year battle with a chronic form of liver disease that caused him to need the liver transplant along with the dreaded diagnosis of a very aggressive rare form of liver cancer; they were forced to sell them.
On Oct. 2, just barely over two months after Ryan's transplant, with his family, his wish team (Frank and Mike), and well wishers all at his side, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, along with Alpine Motorsports of Lindon made Ryan's wish come true. He received the ATV of choice.
Ryan is only the second person in the nation under the age of 18 that has been diagnosed with cholangliocarcinoma, a bile duct cancer. He was also the first to go through protocol -- a two month long set of treatments. These treatments are what ultimately made it possible for Ryan to be able to get a transplant, as they put the cancer in a dormant stage. This dormant stage stopped the aggressive cancer from spreading and gave him the chance he needed to find a donor.
According to what doctors told Ryan's mother Yolanda Thompson, the donor was found just in the nick of time. They felt that Ryan's health had deteriorated to a point that he would have not lived for more than two weeks.
It is now just over three months since Ryan received his transplant. Ryan is doing amazingly well and will be able to get a lot of enjoyment from his new 4-wheeler.
Ryan's mother, Yolanda was amazed at how as he came out of surgery, he looked better than he had for a long time. The donor liver he received was a 97 percent match, 70 percent is considered good and you never get a 100 percent match.
Doctors expected him to be in the hospital for two to three weeks after the transplant. He was released after nine days. He weighed only 100 pounds when he went in the hospital and has already gained 35 pounds. Even though he was not able to attend school on a regular basis all of last year, he is working hard this year (his senior year) and is going to be able to graduate with his class.
Ryan's wish has been chosen for a special segment on ABC-4 news called "Power Wishes." This past week Krachell Greenwood, Communications Manager with the Make-A-Wish Foundation along with Aaron Kimbell from ABC-4 News came to the Thompson's home to shoot footage for the special. The exact date Ryan's "wish" will be aired has not been determined. The segment airs on Saturdays in either the 5 or 5:30 p.m. news. It will run sometime in January.
Ryan and his family could not express enough their gratitude to the donor's family and everyone that has been involved with his illness. From the doctors and staff at Primary Children's Hospital, Huntsman Cancer Institute and the University Hospital, to the Make-A-Wish Foundation (especially Frank and Mike), and all who have said prayers or given donations. They are extremely grateful.
Ryan's story should give us all a little more courage to fight the day to day trials that life brings us. He and his family never gave up and never lost hope. They truly should be an inspiration to all of us. They believed that they would get a miracle and they received one.
Donations to the Ryan Thompson Liver Fund can be made at helpryannow.com or at Wells Fargo Bank.