A six-year-old Lisburn boy was granted his wish to be a zookeeper for the day and see his favourite animal, a rhinocerous when he visited Dublin Zoo, recently.
Robert Patterson, an avid animal lover who had never seen a rhino before was granted the visit through Make-A-Wish Foundation UK, was born with half a heart (hypoplastic left heart syndrome) and had his first heart surgery at just two days old.
Make-A-Wish, is a charity that grants magical wishes to children and young people fighting life-threatening conditions.
An excited Robert, travelled in limousine to Dublin Zoo and when he arrived he was met by tour guides who facilitated feeding some of the animals including chickens, goats, sheep and pigs.
But his favourite part was seeing the rhino in its enclosure and listening to a special talk about his favourite animal.
Robert’s mum Caroline said: “The wish meant the world to Robert – he talks about it all the time and it has inspired him to become a zookeeper.
“It was a really positive experience and we have such happy memories of the day.” At one day old Robert was flown by helicopter to Birmingham Children’s Hospital to have the first of three operations to move veins around his heart to enable blood to flow.
Robert had a second bout of heart surgery at four months old and had the final stage of the heart surgery process in August 2012 when he was four.
He is currently being monitored but is likely to need a heart transplant when he is a teenager.
Caroline continued: “It was amazing to see everyone so happy, including Robert’s two brothers, Nathan who is four and Kyle who is 10. It was wonderful to enjoy every moment and not to have to worry about anything.”
There are currently 20,000 children and young people in the UK fighting a life-threatening condition.
This year, Make-A-Wish hopes to grant 900 wishes but needs to raise £7m to continue granting wishes in the future.
Make-A-Wish® receives no government funding – so every donation really does count.
To make a donation to Make-A-Wish please visit www.make-a-wish.org.uk or telephone 01276 405060.
A donation of £10 will buy lunch for a child who wishes for a special visit to London
£20 pays for a sparkly tiara to help fulfil a little girl’s wish to be a princess for the day and £50 buys a special uniform for a boy who wishes to be a soldier, policeman or fireman for the day.
An event supporting the charity is the Europa Hotel Abseil, which takes place on September 21.