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Ventura County Focus | West County / SANTA PAULA

Make-A-Wish Sending Family to 'Paradise'

June 30, 1998|PAMELA J. JOHNSON

When Crystal Utlay closes her eyes and imagines paradise, several snapshots flash through her mind.

Majestic waterfalls. Lush green forests. A clear, teal blue sea. Tropical fish.

That's why she wants to go to Maui.

Utlay will get to spend time in paradise this August, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for this region. The 17-year-old from Santa Paula will take the trip before she undergoes a kidney transplant.

"I want to go so badly," she said Monday. "I'm going to have so much fun."

Her parents, sister and two brothers will accompany her.

"My brothers have had their clothes packed for two weeks," she said.

Four days after they return home, Crystal and her mother, Charlotte, will be admitted to a hospital.

There, Charlotte will donate one of her kidneys to her daughter, whose only healthy kidney began to fail about a year ago.

Since then, Crystal has routinely received dialysis treatments. Suffering from fatigue, she left Santa Paula High School to study at home.

Crystal's kidney failure is complicated by other health problems. She also has spina bifida, bladder failure and congestive heart failure.

Yet she remains active. For Hawaii, her to-do list is extensive.

She plans to attend a luau, see a fireworks display, snorkel, take strolls through Lahaina's quaint downtown, see botanical gardens, take drives through the forest, visit the Hard Rock Cafe and--if she has time--hang out at the beach.

And Mom? She plans to do just one thing.

"Relax," she said.

Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties covers the cost of about 40 to 60 wishes a year for youths 2 to 18.

Those who wish to donate money to the foundation may call 681-1644.

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