Strong Bonds

Five hundred kilometres is a long way to travel, but it is a small journey to make for family.  That is what the Mabley family faced when they found out their newborn daughter needed medical care in Edmonton, a long ways away from their home in Grimshaw, AB.

Joyce Mabley’s pregnancy seemed quite normal. After trying to have a child for nine years she and her husband were overjoyed to be expecting a daughter, but when Kaelynn was born she weighed just 3 pounds 3 ounces at full term. Doctors realized that she hadn’t been receiving the nutrients she needed and experienced intrauterine growth restriction. Joyce and her husband Greg are very calm people, so they asked doctors to explain their journey step by step, making sure that their daughter would have the best care possible.

Kaelynn was born at the hospital in Grande Prairie and sent to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton for five days. She seemed quite healthy other than her size, so doctors felt like the Mableys could head back to the Grande Prairie NICU until their daughter reached a safe size to go home. The doctors in Grande Prairie discovered that Kaelynn’s medical situation was more complicated than everyone thought: Kaelynn had two holes in her heart and after three weeks she was not thriving. 

She was transferred back to Edmonton, to the Stollery Children’s Hospital’s this time, to grow larger so that she could withstand surgery to fix her broken heart spending many weeks in-hospital and at the Ronald McDonald House in Edmonton. When she grew to over seven pounds, Kaelynn began to get too much fluid around her lungs, doctors felt confident that Kaelynn was strong enough to survive her surgery and couldn’t wait any longer. Three days before her surgery doctors did another test to check out Kaelynn’s heart and found a third hole. 

Throughout the Mabley family’s journey the Ronald McDonald House has been by their side. When the Mableys stayed in the parent’s room at the hospital they had access to Meals That Mend: Frozen Edition and the Day Pass Program. On their last day in the family room Joyce and Greg were driving over to the House for the Day Pass to do laundry when they found out that they could move into the House that very day.

When they moved into the House they felt comforted knowing they were minutes away from the hospital in case of an emergency, and that they could jump on the shuttle to get Kaelynn to all of her appointments. They were terrified that Kaelynn would go into heart failure, and they took so much comfort in knowing how close they were to the hospital and the doctors that she needed. The House was Kaelynn’s first home.

The biggest support the Mableys felt was being connected to so many families that they could speak to outside the hospital. They would chat with other families at the House when they just needed someone to talk to. Everyone staying at the House understands what it is like to care for a seriously ill or injured child, they all lean on each other for support and advice. Joyce, Greg, and Kaelynn formed strong bonds with families at the House who they now consider lifelong friends.

This little girl has been through so much, and she has come a long way since doctors fixed the holes in her heart. Kaelynn may be small now, but she is full of energy and love for her parents. For a healthy future for Kaelynn, the Mableys are focused on her height and growth, but she is such an energetic little girl who loves to explore and experience the world around her. 

To give back to the House that supported her family, Kaelynn is now a Super Fundraiser, raising funds in support of all families at the Ronald McDonald House. If your children, or anyone you know under 17 years of age would like to become a Super Fundraiser like Kaelynn, please connect with Dale Bond at 780-518-1198 or dale@rmhcna.org, or Patricia Snow at 780-439-5437 ext. 202 at patricia@rmhcna.org.

“We do not know what we would have done without the House. Thank you to the donors who make this House possible,” says Joyce.

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