Make A Wish: A feast for Emilio

Make A Wish: A feast for Emilio

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Emilio Ziolkowski loves playing Monopoly with his brother and sisters and neighborhood friends.

His mother Celina said 9-year-old future real estate tycoon loves the competition.
 
That same fight to win helped Emilio when the stakes were much higher.

"He developed a rash," his mother recalled. "He had a fever. He lost 10 pounds in 5 days."

Emilio was rushed to Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland when his lymph nodes had swollen overnight.

More than a dozen doctors worked for two weeks straight to figure out what was making Emilio so sick.

"He just slept, he just lay there," his mother said. "He looked so sick."

"Kind of painful during some of the time, and miserable, and it took me a long time to get over," Emilio said.

Finally, one the dozens of doctors working on Emilio's case diagnosed him with HLH, an extremely rare disease. It's a mutated form of the Epstein Barr virus which is often associated with mono.

Only one one in a million kids will ever get HLH.

Emilio was immediately treated with chemo and steroids. It wasn't until he started to get better that Celina and her husband started talking about what Emilio wanted through make-a-wish.

"Food became a really, really big deal," his mother said. "He talked about it in his sleep, and he asked for it every day. It was just the saddest thing because we had to say no."

So when it came time decide, Emilio only wanted one thing: a good old-fashioned luau in Hawaii.

"We got to eat like pork, salad, tomatoes, corn, some kind of weird sauce - I don't know what it was called," Emilio said.

He also go to spend time swimming with dolphins and goofing around.

For Celina, it was a chance to finally take a breath and finally feel like a family again.

Unfortunately, Emilio's fight is far from over.

The disease returned, so Emilio will meet with specialists in Cincinnati, Ohio, next month.

Doctors may have to remove a part of his colon, and then he'll undergo a bone marrow transplant.

Fortunately, Emilio's two sisters are a perfect match.