Lisa Hacker, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

    In February, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin updated its wish guidelines to make all cystic fibrosis patients with respiratory involvement eligible for a wish. Since those guidelines have been updated, Make-A-Wish has received 53 referrals for kids living with cystic fibrosis throughout Wisconsin. More than 40 of those children have come from

    Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, thanks in large part to Lisa Hacker.

    Hacker, a pediatric social worker at Children’s Hospital, spends a significant amount of her time with patients and families in the hospital’s Cystic Fibrosis Center.

    Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system, Hacker said.

    Patients with cystic fibrosis inherit a defective gene that causes a buildup of thick mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs.

    Patients with cystic fibrosis have difficulty breathing that can lead to infections and inflammation.

    Hacker serves as a liaison between families and medical teams and also offers support resources and advocacy for patients and their families. She has also become a significant advocate for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and discusses regularly the power of a wish with her cystic fibrosis patients.

    “Initially, we had to talk with our families and change their perception of getting a wish,” Hacker said. “We were able to help them see that receiving a wish meant we were recognizing that every day is a fight and honoring these patients for working hard and constantly winning that battle.”

    The Cystic Fibrosis Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin has approximately 205 active patients. Hacker works with patients between the ages of two and 18 as wish referrals, she said.

    “Lisa has had a significant impact, and played a critical role in helping us reach our goal of granting wishes to all medically-eligible kids,” said Julie Anthony, medical outreach coordinator at Make-A-Wish Foundation. “(Wishes) give those kids and families hope, strength, and joy as they battle their illness.”

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