Ronald McDonald House Houston Lending A Helping Hand: A Family’s Perspective


Every year, thousands of families come through our doors seeking a quiet respite from childhood illness. Ronald McDonald House Houston is proud to offer a home away from home for these families in need at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Ronald McDonald House Houston works with Texas Children’s to provide a house with 20 bedrooms and four Ronald McDonald family rooms where families can rest, recharge and have a snack or coffee with other families who truly know what enduring a childhood illness is like.

Amy and Matt are two of those parents who found themselves caught in the emotional whirlwind of welcoming a new baby, only to find out that she had several heart defects. They didn’t know where to turn.

Just five days old, Jackie was diagnosed with Transposition of the Great Arteries, coarctation, ventricular septal defect and atrial septal defect. Five short days later she underwent open heart surgery. Thanks to an amazing team at Texas Children’s, Jackie is now six years old and healthy.

“We were blindsided by the diagnosis. After a cardiac sonogram discovered the transposition, everything became a blur. Between Jackie’s transportation, calling family, and a lot of prayers, we found ourselves sitting in a hallway at Texas Children’s outside of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at 10:00 pm. Heartbroken and scared, we realized something else: neither of us had a clue where to go or what to do next. We didn’t want to go home and leave our daughter, and nearby hotels seemed too far. That’s when the nurse told us about Ronald McDonald House Houston inside the hospital.  We could sleep, change our clothes and get a shower; all within steps of our daughter,” remembers Matt.

“Over those first five nights, Ronald McDonald House Houston was nothing short of a Godsend. It is every parent’s nightmare that their child would need to be rushed to the hospital because of life-threatening health issues. Amy and I found ourselves emotionally broken from the knowledge that Jackie’s health was dire and totally out of our control.  When we stepped into that room at Ronald McDonald House Houston inside Texas Children’s, we both broke down.  A simple bed, just a hallway away from our daughter, was the first of many answered prayers,” he said.

When Jackie was taken to surgery, her parents were told about the Ronald McDonald Family Room on the surgical floor. For the next 12 hours, this family room was home to Matt, Amy and many friends and family members as they waited for news.

“The simple kindness of food, drink, and a comfortable place to sit was very special for us that day,” said Matt.

With Jackie on the mend from surgery, Matt and Amy were finally able to take her home. Thankful for such a wonderful doctor and nurses at Texas Children’s and Ronald McDonald House Houston, Matt and Amy continue to support these organizations.

“Every year on the anniversary of Jackie’s surgery we cater lunch for the Ronald McDonald family room. Even though we’ve moved away from the Houston area, we want to continue to honor her life,” said Matt and Amy.

For more information about Ronald McDonald House Houston at Texas Children’s and how you can help, visit here.

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About Catie Tuley, Marketing Coordinator Ronald McDonald House

I am the Marketing Coordinator for Ronald McDonald House Houston. I joined this great organization after graduating from TCU (Go Frogs!). It is a joy to share the stories of these amazingly strong children and families and help continue to make this House a home away from home.
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