Teen Patient Uses ‘Wish' to Pay It Forward

Since he was a baby, Justin Wang battled an extremely rare blood disorder that led to heart failure which was so bad, he didn't have an appetite for most of his life.

"Every night I had to artificially insert food inside myself," Wang said.

When he was 15, he had a heart transplant and for three months he and his mom stayed at the Ronald McDonald house in Palo Alto during his recovery.

"It's just so amazing, the people that are here," Wang said. "You find the strength. you really find the strength and courage in humanity while you're staying here."

After the transplant, it put his body on the right track and that's also when his taste buds came to life.

"Now that I can eat again, I decided why not just eat healthy food?" Wang said.

Now at age 16, he loves to cook, but still has to cut out sodium and sugar due to his heart condition.

When the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave him a wish, he passed on a trip to Europe or Disneyland to make a cookbook.

He unveiled the book in a cooking demonstration, back at the Ronald McDonald house in front of his family, doctors, and friends.

"You never know what a kid's going to come up with and I think when we see our kids that have gone through extraordinary illness they have a wisdom," said Betsy Biern, Chief Executive Officer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "What I love is that they both have a wisdom and have joy."

The cookbook focuses on recipes that are heart healthy, so kids who are also sick can eat easy-to-make, delicious, healthy food.

"I thought, not only will it help me, but it'll help other people like me," Wang said.

An East Bay chef helped the 16-year-old with the recipes.

"It's something that can be shared with a lot of people," East Bay Health Chef Victoria said. "It is a gift that keeps giving."

Wang spent the rest of the night autographing his work using a wish to put a stamp on life that teach others there is hope beyond an illness.

"I am pretty impressed with myself, and I'm pretty proud of myself too,” Wang said. “It is just so amazing to see what I can do after a heart transplant."

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