SUMTER, S.C.: For 14-year-old Elizabeth Touchberry, dealing with life-threatening medical situations has been a constant in her life. But a little over a year ago, the Sumter teen fell ill again and missed out on a planned beach vacation. Recently, that vacation was finally realized when children’s charity Kids Wish Network granted Elizabeth’s wish for a tropical cruise.
Elizabeth’s harrowing medical journey begins before she was even born. Diagnosed in utero at 30 weeks with Chiari 2 malformation, doctors didn’t think she would survive, and if she did, she could be in a vegetative state for life. Little Elizabeth miraculously survived birth and had her first brain shunt placed at only 2 days old. She spent the first 12 days of her life in the NICU and had a shunt revision at 9 months.
Elizabeth suffers from four life-threatening and incurable illnesses, all dealing with her brain: Chiari 2 malformation, refers to structural defects in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance; hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid around the brain causing pressure and requiring the placement of a shunt; peri ventricular leukomalcia, characterized by the death of white matter in the brain; and optic nerve hypoplasia, a congenital condition in which the optic nerve is underdeveloped.
As a result of Elizabeth’s conditions, she suffers from learning disabilities struggling with memory, comprehension and multi-tasking. Elizabeth has required multiple shunt revisions and undergone a total of 15 surgeries, 8 of which took place between the months of February and July of 2013.
Despite her constant struggles, Elizabeth remains positive and tries to live each day to the fullest. She definitely got the most out of her wish trip granted by Kids Wish Network. The charity sent Elizabeth and the Touchberry family on an all-inclusive tropical cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines, which helped sponsor the wish.
Elizabeth loved exploring the ship and experiencing exciting encounters. Her favorite part of the trip was the dolphin encounter where she got to swim with the friendly animals.
“Everyone treated Elizabeth like royalty on the ship,” recalls her mother Brandy Stevens. “Elizabeth even got to be on stage with the dancers during one of the dinner shows. It was such a wonderful experience; thank you all so much.”
Kids Wish Network is a national charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations. Come experience the Kids Wish Network difference.