12-year-old kidney transplant recipient goes to 'medical school' through Make-A-Wish Illinois

Karen Jordan Image
Monday, July 17, 2023
12-year-old kidney transplant recipient goes to 'medical school'
Make-A-Wish Illinois granted a 12-year-old kidney transplant recipient's wish to be a doctor for a day at Lurie Children's Hospital.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's the first day of medical school for Melanie Romo, a 12-year old girl shadowing a nurse at Lurie Children's Hospital.

First up for Melanie was evaluating Bella, who volunteered to act as a patient with gall stones.

This is the experience Melanie was hoping for. She was once a patient at Lurie, diagnosed two years ago with chronic kidney disease and in need of a transplant.

"For a little girl, a 12-year-old girl to wish that is just incredible. I think we have the responsibility to nourish that, that passion for medicine," said Dr. Carlos Romero, who was Melanie's kidney transplant team.

The experience made Melanie sure of what she wants to be when she grows up: a kidney doctor.

"I just felt like being a doctor for a day because as I remember, I always wanted to be one," Melanie said.

So, Make-A-Wish Illinois helped arrange for Melanie to be a doctor for a day, the first wish of its kind. She even got scrubs and her own stethoscope.

"Melanie's wish is unique, but every wish is unique as the child who dreams it up, so we try to tailor each experience to be exactly what that child needs when they need it," said Jessica Miller with Make-A-Wish Illinois.

Melanie received a new kidney October of last year, donated by her mother, Araceli Romo, who said she's proud of her daughter's determination.

"And many people told her, 'You can ask for anything else. Being a doctor for a day? You'll be at the hospital. You're wasting your wish,'" Araceli said.

Each month, more than a 100 wishes are granted across Illinois, and for Melanie's family, this is a sign that tough times are behind them.

"It's not just her wish, it's a dream for our whole family," Araceli said.