Michael’s medical journey began at a very young age as he was diagnosed with asthma and had taken medication to control his seizures. In March 2019, Michael’s condition worsened when he noticed he wasn’t feeling well one day after school.

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“It was a Friday in March and I was going golfing some buddies after school when I realized that I didn’t feel very good,” Michael shares. “I came home, took a bath and realized that I had little red bumps all over my skin”.

Michael had recently switched medications for his seizures and his family first wondered if that had been the cause of his rash. However, Michael became more ill that night and his parents called Mayo looking for answers as they described the blue coloring in his lips and the fever that had developed. The Mayo Clinic had agreed that Michael may be experiencing symptoms related to a reaction to his new medication; to reach an official diagnosis, Michael’s parents were directed to bring him to the hospital.

“I got a call from mom and dad and I could tell from dad’s voice that something was wrong, he was scared,” Michael’s brother, Daniel recalls. “They told me they were on their way to Mayo because Michael was really sick. My dad said, ‘I think he has Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.’” 

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is a very rare, serious skin disorder causing painful blisters that often results as a negative reaction to medications. When arriving at Mayo Clinic, Michael’s parents confided in the doctors, reporting that they believe he had Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, but the doctors were doubtful because of the rarity of the disorder and wanted to run several tests before reaching an official diagnosis. After the doctors had run several tests, they came back to Michael’s room and confirmed his diagnosis of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.

“The doctor came back to the room, closed the door and said, ‘I believe Michael has Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and it’s going to get much worse before it gets better,’”  Michael’s parents remember. “There was a chance of his carbamazepine medication causing the Stevens-Johnson Syndrome but the chances were one in three-hundred thousand people. And you just don’t think your son is the unlucky one.” 

Once Michael was approved for a wish, he knew what he wanted right away. He always had a passion for cattle and he and his brother ran their own business, McDonough Show Cattle. But without their own trailer they were currently using their uncle’s old cattle trailer. His family shares that though the trailer was old and small, Michael and his brother were happy doing what they love and having the resources to do so.

“I remember when he was very young, talking to the breeders on the phone about the large cattle operation he runs and just seeing the way he is able to truly be himself around the cattle,” Michael’s sister, Mary says. “I think that the presence he has in the cattle world, at such a young age, is a true testament to his love of cattle”

Michael was able to receive his wish for a new cattle trailer with the help of several donors in the Dubuque area and Featherlite Trailers. He had the opportunity to meet Gerb, one of the main donors of his wish and thank him personally for the impact his generosity had in his life and other children battling life-threatening illnesses.

Michael’s wish was the 4,000th wish for Make-A-Wish® Iowa during their 33 years of business and one they were excited to grant. Michael’s family reflects on such an exciting time for Michael during his challenging medical journey and thanks Make-A-Wish for creating magic in the lives of children battling life-threatening illnesses. As they look back on the impact of Michael’s wish, they encourage others to support Make-A-Wish and witness the magic of life-changing wishes.