Gabriel’s legs carelessly floated behind him as his hands politely gripped the dolphin’s fin. The two glided across the blue water, forming ripples as they went. His smile widening as the dolphin steadily picked up speed. The 7-year-old was miles away from the hospital stays and un-answered questions of his life-threatening blood disorder.
“Our family will be forever grateful for the memories in the midst of our struggles to support Gabriel during his illness,” Gabriel’s mom Rebekah said. “Everything about the wish was wonderful.”
Just before his first birthday, Gabriel wasn’t himself and a trip to the doctor called for several red blood cell transfusions. He was diagnosed with a hereditary condition, but was told he may never need another transfusion.
“Needless to say, Gabriel has been transfusion-dependent approximately every four to five weeks since that first blood transfusion,” Rebekah said. “Unexpectedly, Gabriel was diagnosed with a brain malformation, which has been harmless, but played a negative role on his quality of life.”
According to Rebekah, the additional diagnosis has required frequent MRIs and many terrible headaches for Gabriel. Since his initial diagnosis, Gabriel has been across the country trying to determine his condition. After six years of searching, Gabriel and his family finally found some answers in a blood disorder diagnosis that will require him to have surgery on his spleen in the near future.
Despite his health battle, Gabriel was able to take a break from the medical tests and was full of laughter during his wish to swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove in Florida. Gabriel and his three brothers played on the beach, met a few dolphins and giggled away while riding the rides at the theme park.
“Since encountering dolphins at Discovery Cove, Gabriel is encouraged to one day be a dolphin trainer,” Rebekah said. “Gabriel put all his souvenirs from the trip on his dresser and he’s been arranging them regularly. He will never forget the special vacation.”