Make-A-Wish Grants Boca Teen’s Dream Of Touring Cardiac Unit

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By: Dale King Contributing Writer

Madison Burton of Boca Raton “always knew she wanted to be a doctor,” said her mother, Heather. But unlike most other 17-year-olds, the Boca Raton High School junior got a chance to tour the cardiac intensive care unit of a real hospital, a tour guided by the physician in charge of the unit.

Not only did Madison take a tour recently of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, she got the opportunity to view an operation on a 5-day-old child who required a pulmonary valve replacement. Dressed in doctor scrubs, she stood attentively by while Dr. Frank Scholl, the hospital’s chief of pediatric and congenital heart surgery, described the operation.

The visit also gave her a true idea of how much time doctors spend in the operating room. Madison’s time at JMCH ran out and she had to leave before the surgery was completed.

“The doctor was amazing,” noted Heather. “When we got into the limo to go home, Madison said she was overwhelmed. It was really an exciting day.”

Even Dr. Scholl called her tour “awesome.”

Make-A-Wish Southern Florida handled arrangements for the visit. As always, the organization helps to grant wishes for children and teens who suffer from a serious illness. Madison has Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease characterized by inflammation of the digestive, or gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s can affect any part of the GI system, but is more commonly found at the end of the small intestine.

Heather said the ailment “definitely holds Madison back. There are days when you don’t feel well. It is hard to get out of bed or to socialize.” Most of the teenager’s friends don’t know she has Crohn’s.

“Right now, she is doing well,” mom says. “She is on a treatment program.”

As part of the visit to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Heather and Madison were transported in a white a limo. They received some gifts from Make-A-Wish and from the hospital.

Afterwards, Madison suited up in scrubs, a surgical lab coat and stethoscope to join Dr. Scholl on his rounds of the cardiovascular ICU. She also spent time with the JDCH medical team and learn the ins-and-outs of a day in the life of a surgeon.

The medical chief walked Madison though the preparations for cardiac surgery on the little boy. He showed her a scan and pointed out the aortic valve and the pulmonary valve.

Dr. Scholl found Madison to be “a wonderful young lady. She has her share of challenges, but she is a very intelligent young lady and her mother is as well. Madison was very excited about the opportunity to visit the hospital.”

“We’re making her dream come true, and you could see the smile on her face and the passion that she has for cardiology and medicine,” said Richard Kelly, COO for Make-A-Wish Southern Florida.

The regional organization, part of a national network, has granted more than 11,000 wishes since 1983 for children who have critical illnesses.

Kelly noted that most participants “wish to be (something), wish to meet (someone), wish to go (somewhere) or wish to have (something). Madison’s case was a less common type, more of an experiential desire.

The Boca teen volunteers at Boca Regional and has an identical twin sister, Sydney.