Michigan Hospital Throws 'Great Gatsby'-Themed Prom for Teen Patient: 'They Know My Story'
"She carries herself with such grace and charm and the whole staff wanted to do something for her"
Corinne Bass and her family moved to Mount Pleasant, Michigan, just in time for the start of her senior year. Instead of nerves, the 18-year-old says she was excited to meet new people and looking forward to all the fun that comes with your last year of high school.
“I was excited to have prom and do senior skip day and get really close to these people,” Bass tells PEOPLE.
So she was devastated when doctors told her she would have to miss her senior year.
“That was hard. That was my last piece of high school, the last year that you have, and it just kind of slipped away,” she says.
For the past two years, Bass has been battling aplastic anemia, a rare blood disorder where the bone marrow does not produce enough blood cells. She was diagnosed her sophomore year of high school and was in remission until last September.
“As soon as the school year started my blood count fell and I was too sick to continue going to school,” she says.
Bass received a bone marrow transplant in February, which resulted in a lot of time spent at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, almost two hours from her new hometown. She also had to live in isolation because of her challenged immune system.
Despite missing the fun of her senior year, Bass worked with Sarah Smith, the hospital’s on-staff teacher, working through AP biology and literature classes.
“She carries herself with such grace and charm and the whole staff wanted to do something for her,” Smith tells PEOPLE.
So the staff decided to recreate some of the high school moments Bass was missing. They helped the teen pull “senior pranks” on some of the nurses and doctors. But then they stepped up their game.
“She really wanted to go to prom and I thought we need to come up with something,” Smith says.
Many of the doctors and nurses who’d been treating her pitched in. The teen chose a “Great Gatsby” theme and all the doctors and nurses dressed accordingly. The hospital’s child life specialist even had a special car pick her up from the hospitality house and drop her at the hospital where the prom was being held on the 11th floor.
“I thought it was better than a normal prom,” Bass says. “I knew everybody there in a very special way. I was connected to everybody in the room. They know my story and have been taking care of me.”
Smith adds, “It was great. She’s been through so much and the whole staff just felt like we wanted to do something special for her.”
Bass still has regular checkups at the hospital and will remain in isolation for the next few months. The hospital staff is now trying to figure out what they can do for her graduation.
“I just have to get through these next six months and then after that, I should be good to go!” Bass says.
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