“Having one last wish!” - Fulfilling a last wish for critically ill people in the final phase of their lives? One last trip to the soccer match of their favourite team? Or just enjoying a relaxed day at the beach with the family? The Wünschewagen, an initiative of the ASB Germany, makes it possible. Terminally ill people can visit a place of their dreams once again by means of the Wünschewagen. The place of wish can be anywhere in Germany.
The first Wünschewagen was ready for use by the ASB in the Ruhr region in 2014. The project was so well received that after the first trips, ASB decided to expand the project. Today, at least one Wünschewagen is available in every German state. Since August 2018, 166 wishes have been fulfilled throughout Saxony-Anhalt and 92,000 km have been covered by the Wünschewagen. The initiative of the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund is financed exclusively by donations.
Thus, Frank Niemann, Managing Director of Cybertrading GmbH, decided to present a donation of 5,000 euros to the Wünschewagen Sachsen-Anhalt on Friday, November 25, 2022.
We invited Wünschewagen and its team to our company in Barleben for the handover of the donation. Also present were the Wünschewagen coordinator Luisa Garthof and Frank Schulze as a member of the board of ASB Magdeburg. Over a cup of coffee, the team presented the project to us in detail and explained that the team consists only of volunteers. The volunteers of the Wünschewagen, also called wish granters, accompany the wish trips free of charge in their spare time. Over the years, the initiative has built up a large pool of volunteers who can always be found to accompany the upcoming trips.
But where to go for the last trip?
"Before a trip can start, however, a lot of planning has to be done,'' said Wünschewagen coordinator Luisa Garthof. The person with the wish or their relatives usually make an online request or learn about the possibility of using the Wünschewagen from professionals in palliative care units, hospices, hospitals or care facilities.
After the acceptance of the wish request, they start to look for a suitable wish. The volunteers support the affected person in the search, whereby a last trip to the sea is the most frequent wish. In addition to the sea, family trips, visits to friends, or a trip to a family event are the heartfelt wishes of those affected.
After expressing the wish, it is now up to the team to check whether the state of health of the terminally ill person allows the route to be taken. In addition, the last place to be visited should represent an emotional connection to the person and not have been chosen because of general popularity. When the desired location is determined, the planning continues quite quickly. Thus, the desired trip usually takes place already 4 to 6 days after the acceptance of the request.
I have not seen such a smile in a long time
On the day of the excursion, at least 2 volunteers accompany the person making the request. The volunteers always need a professional medical background. Paramedics are necessary, who are familiar with the vehicles and the entire technology, as well as medical nurses, who are responsible for the medical care of the person with their wish on the day of the excursion.
The family is also there to keep the passenger company on the trip. For those making the wish, this day is often a very special one, as they can get to escape from their medically dominated everyday lives and be out for one more time.
But fulfilling the passenger's last wish also has a positive effect on the relatives. Luisa Garthof explains: "The relatives can once again experience a special moment with their loved one. That's what makes it so special. For one, it gives them strength to better cope with the upcoming time, while for the other, it also gives them the opportunity to let go."
At the handover in Barleben, we had the opportunity to take a look at the inside of the Wünschewagen. The interior of the Wünschewagen was designed to meet the individual needs of the seriously ill passengers. The ceiling is decorated with a starry sky, matching the all-round glazing. The large windows allow the passenger to enjoy an extraordinary panoramic view during the ride. Isolated decorations, such as small plants and flowers, quickly make people forget that the Wünschewagen is a medical emergency vehicle. But even if the medical equipment and resources are not directly visible, medical equipment is ready for use in an emergency.
Fulfilling wishes together - Wishes for Christmas and 2023
Finally, we asked the team of the Wünschewagen what their hopes and wishes are for Christmas and for the coming year.
"So far this year, we have been able to fulfill 40 wishes. Therefore, we naturally hope to be able to fulfill as many wishes again next year. We also wish that the willingness to donate will continue. We know that inflation is worrying people and therefore donations may decrease. Nevertheless, we would like to point out that even the smallest donations, whether monthly or one-time, help us considerably in total - together we can fulfill wishes."
Would you also like to support the Wünschewagen Sachsen-Anhalt?
Everybody interested ist welcome to help this wonderful initiative with a donation .
Donations Account Wünschewagen:
Bank für Sozialwirtschaft
DE48 8102 0500 0007 4667 04
Keyword: “Wünschewagen” + Ihre Stadt oder Ihr Landkreis