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About Sickkids
About SickKids

June 8, 2005

Sixteen-year-old girl travels 3000 miles to SickKids to fulfill her greatest wish

Toronto, Ontario - A sixteen-year-old Make-A-Wish® recipient has traveled from London, England to Toronto, Canada, to fulfill her greatest wish, to meet the doctor who identified two genes for the illness she suffers from – Lafora disease, which is a severe form of adolescent-onset epilepsy.

In 2002, Kelly was suffering from progressively worsening seizures and she wasn't responding to treatment. In a quest to uncover information about her condition, Kelly's friends and family searched the Internet for answers. It was there that they found out about the research of Dr. Berge Minassian.

Dr. Minassian is a neurologist and scientist at Toronto 's Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids). In 1998 and 2003, in collaboration with his colleague, Dr. Stephen Scherer, Dr. Minassian identified two genes for Lafora disease. These discoveries led to the development of a diagnostic test, which enabled Dr. Minassian to diagnose Kelly with Lafora disease. The identification of the Lafora disease genes has also opened a door for the development of new treatment possibilities for those with this illness.

In late 2004, Kelly's parents approached the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of the United Kingdom and shortly after received word that Kelly had been approved for a wish. After careful consideration, Kelly decided her greatest wish was to meet Dr. Minassian. It was then that the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of the United Kingdom and the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Toronto and Central Ontario worked together to make Kelly's wish come true.

The Toronto and Central Ontario chapter of Make-A-Wish® is proud to facilitate a wish unique as this one, says Andrea Dicks, Manager of Wish Granting. The individuality of this young woman's wish goes beyond international borders, and demonstrates that wishes are only limited by the imagination.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation® grants wishes to children, ages three through 17, with life-threatening illnesses, to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. The Make-A-Wish Foundation® is the largest international wish granting organization with affiliates in 32 countries on five continents.

Interview and Photo Opportunity:

Kelly and her parents, Dr. Berge Minassian and Make-A-Wish® representatives

Kelly, a Make-A-Wish® recipient, will meet Dr. Berge Minassian, the doctor who diagnosed her with Lafora disease and will visit the Sick Kids lab where the genes for Lafora disease were discovered. Kelly will also present Dr. Minassian with money that her and her school friends have raised for his Lafora disease research.

Thursday June 9, 2005 at 10:30 a.m.

The Hospital for Sick Children,
170 Elizabeth Street
(meet at Main Information Desk in Atrium lobby)

For further information on Make-A-Wish Foundation®, please contact:
Daniella Bianchi
Marketing & Development Coordinator
Tel: 416-223-4132
e-mail: daniella.bianchi@makeawish.ca

For more information, please contact:

Public Affairs
The Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Avenue
Suite 1742, Public Affairs, First floor Atrium
Toronto, ON
M5G 1X8
Phone: 416-813-5058
Fax: 416-813-5328