KOTA KINABALU: While most children make friends and find joy in playgrounds, seven-year-old Pearl Amberly's playtimes are mostly in the hospital.
This is because Pearl was born with congenital muscular dystrophy, a condition which makes her movement very limited.
Visiting the doctor on a monthly basis, if not more, is part of her life.
This year, when her mother Anna Marie Jami Gait, 34, asked what was her birthday wish, she said she wanted to go to the beach.
Having been in palliative care since birth, she doesn't know what it's like to be outside on the beach, apart from the ones seen on television.
A doctor who treats Pearl, who will turn 8 on March 11, heard about her wish then came up with the idea of a birthday surprise.
Dr Yeap Boon Tat, who is also the deputy dean of student affairs and alumni (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of Universiti Malaysia Sabah), teamed up with the Medical Students Association, Nursing Students Association and the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) to make Pearl's wish come true.
On Saturday (March 9), they organised a rainbow and pony-themed party for the Pearl and got McDonald's to provide food for the event, before bringing her to the beach in UMS after that.
Pearl, who loves drawing and colouring, told reporters that she had never been to a beach before and had always wanted to visit one.
She was allowed to play with sand on the beach before family members helped clean and strapped her back to the wheelchair.
The students and organisers also played games with her.
Anna said despite her daughter's disability, she is a very happy person.
"She is smiling all the time," she said, adding that the unconditional love from Pearl's siblings, aged between three and 17, meant a lot to her.
"We try our best to spend our time together as a happy family because we don't know when this would end," she said, fighting back tears.
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