One year on & 750 families kept together

10 Nov 2023

In its inaugural year, Wishlist Centre has marked many milestones.

From hosting its first guest battling one of the rarest forms of leukaemia, to celebrating the Centre’s first baby born on-site, and therapy services expanding to support guests – the first 12 months has been truly remarkable.

In just 365 days, Wishlist Centre has transformed from a $14 million health project into a vital lifeline for more than 750 families navigating health crises.

Wishlist Accommodation Manager Tracey Sobey says since opening doors last November, the facility located opposite the Sunshine Coast University Hospital (SCUH) has played a pivotal role in keeping 750 families together during turbulent times.

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“Wishlist Centre isn't just a place to stay for patients receiving ongoing treatment or are transitioning to and from hospital - it's a testament to the power of community resilience,” Ms Sobey explains.

“As we mark our first birthday, it's heartening to reflect on the countless stories of strength and unity that have unfolded within its walls.”

First Wishlist Centre guest Gary McGrath (pictured) was diagnosed last year with acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APML) - a rare sub-type of acute myeloid leukaemia which accounts for just 10 percent of all AML diagnoses.

After nine months of treatment to conquer the blood cancer and staying at Wishlist Centre for the majority of time, Mr McGrath was able to get back to his home in May.

“I live in Gympie and this service is not available for my particular diagnosis,” Mr McGrath says.

“I was so glad Wishlist was there for me. I initially stayed at Wishlist’s other facility - Reed House in Nambour before I was transferred to the new Wishlist Centre. To be so close to my chemotherapy was such a relief for me.

“I will always be grateful that Wishlist is available to people like myself who live too far for this service, it definitely helped me through my journey… As I look back, I’m really amazed at the treatment from the lovely people I met at Wishlist – it made my treatment and being away from home so much easier.”

Since Mr McGrath’s stay – another two patients diagnosed with acute leukaemia have been able to stay at Wishlist Centre while receiving life-saving treatment.

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“In fact, around half of our guests are cancer patients, while around 12 percent of guests are family members of loved ones who are receiving critical care in the Intensive Care Unit.”

In July, Wishlist staff and the dozens of volunteers who help run the Centre, experienced another ‘first’ when Kin Kin parents Cynthia Trudgett and James Kennedy welcomed their precious baby Eva.

The couple had checked into the Centre due to a high-risk pregnancy, but little did they know that four days later Eva’s miraculous birth story would unfold.

Eva's speedy arrival happened on July 2 at 2.17am when Ms Trudgett unexpectedly and safely delivered her own baby at Wishlist Centre.

“Babies can enter the world unpredictably, regardless of time or location, so we were just so thrilled for Eva’s safe arrival,” Ms Sobey says.

“It was a whirlwind arrival!”  

Over the past six months, the team have also extended services to support guests during their health journey.

“We recently extended therapy services within the centre to include yoga, meditation, massage, reiki, sound healing and offer weekly pet therapy.”

AJH Disability and Health Services which provides holistic and inclusive services to NDIS participants also opened their doors in May.

Wishlist CEO Lisa Rowe and the team is working to unveil plans for Stage 2 of Wishlist Centre and thanked donors for their continued support of the facility.

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