Every year, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington & Alaska serves more than 400 families. Each one of them comes to us with an incredible story of the power of love – like newborn Eva.
Parents Erik and Ann discovered Eva had hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) during a routine ultrasound back home in Moscow, Idaho. She would have to have a life-saving surgery at Seattle Children’s almost immediately after her birth to correct this congenital heart defect.
Erik, Ann, and their 2 1/2 year old daughter Hazel were not able to be together during Eva’s first days. “It was so hard not being together – emotionally, we were a mess,” says Ann. “One of us would be at the hospital and the other would be with Hazel.”
But the family soon found a home at the Ronald McDonald House after Eva’s surgery. Ann vividly remembers being welcomed to the House with a trip to our quilt room, where every child can pick one to keep.
“I realized that the Ronald McDonald House wasn’t just a room, it was something much more. I found a quilt for Eva with hearts on it and I could just feel the extra love that this place has for families. It was amazing to come into a place where everyone is just as excited as you when your baby is doing well and healing.”
Since nothing is more important to a parent than helping their child get well – the House takes care of everything else a family might need. We provide a well-stocked communal pantry, visits from therapy dogs, activities for siblings, arts and crafts, movie nights, and more.
“The House was immediately a home for us. We haven’t had to cook while we’ve been here because volunteers make dinners. The staff here have thought of every detail, down to providing a laundry basket for every family – which is key for us with a newborn and a toddler.”
But beyond covering the material basics, the House has given the family strength when they needed it. “A donation to the house is lifesaving for parents like us, not just financially but also emotionally. We have met other parents with kids who have the same condition, and when you see another kid like Eva, who is doing well and thriving, it gives you strength. You know that you can get through this,” says Erik.
Families like Eva’s may stay at the House for many weeks or even months as their child recovers – the average length of stay is over two months. While Eva’s family expects to be home for Christmas, our House will be 100% full during the holiday season with other families like theirs who have an ill child. Open your heart to families like Eva’s with a donation to the House – you can make a donation online here.