Make A Wish: 'For those four days, I wasn't sick'

Make A Wish: 'For those four days, I wasn't sick'

EUGENE, Ore. -- Kari Karrs likes to wear a designer dress from New York City.

Like many 19 year olds, she's passionate about clothes, college and friends.

But Kari isn't like most 19 year old: She has liver disease.

Her liver failed at age 8. She received a transplant at 14, which her body has fought ever since. She spent much of her childhood at a hospital in California.
 
Going to college at Oregon State University was not guaranteed.

"My first term there I ended up getting a lung infection," Kari said, "and I was trying to do eight IVs a day and go to class and all that."

She takes 80 pills a day and yet posseses an ease about herself that most 19 year old would envy.

When the Make A Wish foundation called after her liver transplant, at first she didn't think she deserved it.

"I wanted to give my wish to the donor family because they had just lost their child and they had given me the only thing I had ever asked for," she said.

When they couldn't find the donor family, Kari asked for a trip to New York City. She was supposed to take a similar trip with her eighth-grade class but missed because she was sick -- just another disappointment for the Karr family.

"So it was just so sweet that we got to go to the very place that she hadn't gotten to go and that we all got to be together," said her mother, Kelly Karr.

The first surprise came before they even set foot in Manhattan: Kari would get to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

They even visited the stock exchange floor, a treat for Kari and her father, a financial advisor.

The Karrs shopped 5th Avenue, visited Times Square, toured Radio City Music Hall, and realized one of her childhood dreams: she spent the day with a famous fashion designer: Catherine Malandrino.

Kari and her mom tried on the entire spring and summer collection -- and she was blown away when the designer gave her a custom dress.

She said the glamour and star treatment are amazing but something more stood out.

"One of my favorite things that really special was nobody asked me what what wrong with me," Kari said.

That is all Kari's parents ever wanted for Kari: for her to feel and be well.

"I would trade places in a minute," said Richard Karr, he father, "and you can't."

He said Kari's illness has brought them all closer together.

"One night we were told she probably wouldn't make it through the night," he said, "but I stayed in the room with her all night, and we talked about her whole life for hours, but she's still here and that's one of the greatest memories we've ever had."

The Karrs have learned to adapt, together.

"We live for today," Richard Karr said, "and don't concern ourselves much about tomorrow."

Hence why the New York trip they took together was so special: Make A Wish gave Kari what no one else could.

"The whole trip was basically just to make me feel like a normal kid," she said. "For those four days, I wasn't sick."