Haleigh Preston ran into her mother’s room in a frenzy in January. Taylor Swift was coming to FedEx Field, not that far from their Havre de Grace home, in July, the day before Haleigh’s 12th birthday.
Could they go?
Her mom, Amber Bodkin, was sympathetic, but it was hard to make a firm plan. Haleigh needed a new liver, and the family didn’t know when she could get one. Haleigh’s doctor at Johns Hopkins Children's Center had put her on the transplant list in December, and now they were waiting.
Nevertheless, this spring Bodkin called around and got tickets donated to them. Swift’s Reputation tour is at FedEx Field on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“I was just freaking out,” Haleigh recalled. She wanted to hear her favorite songs: “Bad Blood,” “End Game” and “Love Story.”
But on July 3 — eight days before the concert and nine days before Haleigh’s birthday — the doctor called. They were ready for the transplant.
“The whole morning before a surgery she was telling them, I’m glad I’m getting a liver but I’m mad I’m missing Taylor Swift for my birthday,” Bodkin said.
The July 4 transplant went well, and Haleigh could be out of the hospital as soon as Friday.
So, hospital staff came up with a new end game: If Haleigh can’t go to Swift, they should try to bring Swift to Haleigh.
The Johns Hopkins Children's Center posted a tweet Friday with Haleigh holding up a white board with the words “Please come see me Taylor Swift” and allusions to the singer’s lyrics:
The tweet has been re-tweeted more than 800 times.
Hospital staff gathered around her Monday to sing a modified version of Swift’s “End Game.”
“Big operation, big operation, stuck in Johns Hopkins cuz my big operation, ooh, and my liver’s brand new, ooh, but I can’t see you.”
“They went the extra mile-and-a-half for her,” Bodkin said.
Haleigh was born with biliary atresia, a condition that causes bile ducts coming from the liver to clog, and has an enlarged spleen, her mother said. The ducts were infected three times before she was 2, and although she was eight healthier years after that, she has more recently gotten sick again.
With the transplant, Bodkin said, doctors are hoping her spleen will shrink to a healthy size within about a year.
“They’re hoping that with her new liver she’d be able to ride a horse and play any sport — except rugby,” Bodkin said.
Haleigh and the hospital have not yet heard from Swift, but a man who saw the Facebook video offered them tickets to her show in Philadelphia on Friday if Haleigh is out of the hospital by then.