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Gabby finds motivation in Harvard Medical School wish

  • Gabby joins fellow medical students sporting her "white coat."

  • Gabby proudly stands in front of Harvard Medical School.

  • Gabby at an official medical student orientation.

  • Gabby joins a group of students on the Harvard lawn.

  • This special wish kid with her mom and her tour guides.

  • Gabby works with multi-billion dollar medical computers, machinery and telescopes.

  • Gabby and Dr. Robert Kitts

  • Gabby and Dr. Robert Kitts

“ I was 8 years old when I decided I want to be a doctor. ”

- Gabby

Gabby’s heart condition affects every part of her life. She had her first surgery when she was a year old, and her medical problems continued.

There’s good news, though: Living with Shone syndrome could alter Gabby’s life in a positive way by motivating her to help kids who, like her, face a life-threatening heart condition. She is determined to study at Harvard Medical School and go on to a career as a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon.

Make-A-Wish® gave Gabby a glimpse of what to expect at Harvard … and a reason to excel in everything she does.

Challenges Start Early

It started with a respiratory infection in 1999. Doctors suspected Gabby may have just had pneumonia. What they found, though, devastated Gabby’s family – a rare heart condition that narrows her heart valves and obstructs blood flow in and out of the heart.

Multiple surgeries followed – balloons in her valves, three different stents, too many hospital visits to count.

Now, Gabby might be near a turning point … a valve transplant could, at last, fix her heart.

First Glimpse of the Future

On the way to many of her surgeries in Boston, Gabby and her family passed the Harvard campus. She would tell her family that, one day, she’d go there to study.

Even when she was just 8 years old, Gabby would vow to be a Harvard student one day. She admits that it sounds like a whimsical, fleeting childhood aspiration … the sort of thing kids say one day, but forget about the next.

When Make-A-Wish volunteers offered to grant her wish, Gabby proved her vision is the real deal. She asked to be a Harvard Medical School student.

Wish granters moved through the many levels of administration at Harvard. And their request found the right person: Dr. Robert Kitts, Harvard clinical instructor, attending physician at Boston Children’s Hospital and adolescent psychiatrist. He planned a week-long program for Gabby that would start with orientation on a Friday and a “graduation” on the following Friday.

“I wanted to craft all four years into one week,” Kitts told a local journalist. “I knew the first-year medical students were starting Aug. 20. So the day they started, she started, too.”

Gabby’s experience went far deeper than tours and intro classes. She worked with simulation mannequins and attended lectures. She even witnessed an intense culmination of a Harvard medical education … open-heart surgery on an infant.

The Harvard experience is over – but only for now. In her wish, Gabby found an affirmation that her goal to be a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon is within reach. She doesn’t fear the hard work such a path demands, and said her week at Harvard “makes me want to work 10 times harder in school. It changed my attitude and outlook.”

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Ginger H.

You go, Gabby! Such a beautiful story.

August 07, 2013 - 10:45 AM


I love that Make-A-Wish makes a positive difference in peoples' lives in so many different ways! I am confident the motivation Gabby gained will help her on her path to success.

August 07, 2013 - 12:25 PM

vincent m.

Gabby, you are an inspiration to people of all ages!!

August 07, 2013 - 12:54 PM

Rhonda S.

Oh my goodness that was such a great testimony of what the Make-A-Wish Foundation can and will do for people like you, Gabby. Work hard and follow your dream no matter what else happens. I admire your spunk to ask for that wish. I will be praying for you. You are going to go far.

August 07, 2013 - 2:29 PM


Hi Gabby...we all want an update in about twelve (??) years when you graduate from Harvard Medical. I have no doubt you can - and will - realize your awesome dream.

August 07, 2013 - 2:43 PM

Cheryl B.

Gabby, you're a Bless child of God, where every you put your mind to, you'll success in life, keep up the Beautiful work that God give you to share, you're full of Life, Study is the Key, Enjoy, You're something Special...Take Care....

August 07, 2013 - 4:36 PM


As a volunteer for Make-A-Wish I am aware of the wonderful work this Foundation is doing granting wishes - and familiar with some of the heart-breaking stories, and wishes being granted.
As a non-profit organization, Make-A-Wish depends on donations and also the work of volunteers. Gabby's story is wonderful, so full of hope - so I ask everybody to give either your time as volunteer, or/and money to be able to continue granting those wonderful wishes. I sincerely hope Gabby continues to hold on to that dream, will pray for her, and for people to allow those dreams to become a reality by doing their part - however little it might be - to make it so.

August 07, 2013 - 4:44 PM


This is such a beautiful wish, full of hope for the future. I love how people work hard to make these wishes come true. Thank you, Harvard! Make-A-Wish, you are awesome!!

August 07, 2013 - 7:14 PM


Gabby, I wish the best and happy to hear that you may be at a turning point. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

August 08, 2013 - 10:06 AM


You will do it I am sure!

August 12, 2013 - 7:17 AM

Ambassador Doc-Barker

Amazing wish!!! Thank you Make-A-Wish® for all you do for the kids!

August 12, 2013 - 10:55 AM


That would be my wish too! I'm glad yours came true!! Make-A-Wish is a great foundation!

September 15, 2013 - 12:55 AM

Elizabeth A

What an outstanding wish!! Gabby, I hope your dream to be a pediatric cardiothorasic surgeon comes true!! Good luck in your studies.

May 02, 2014 - 8:25 AM


What a great wish, Gabby. I my self am a Make-A-Wish kid with a life-threatening heart problem. Make-A-Wish is a life boost. Follow that dream.

May 02, 2014 - 9:15 AM


This is so inspiring. I believe in you, Gabby!

November 30, 2014 - 10:26 AM

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