The Swenia family first stepped through the doors of RMHNA in October 2013. Shannon was expecting her third child, and tests showed that the baby would be born with a very serious heart defect. Edmonton’s cardiology experts offered the medical technology they needed, so they left their home in Fort McMurray and moved into Ronald McDonald House® Northern Alberta.
Brothers Jibril and Ayoub were able to run and play at the House while the family prepared for Safriya’s arrival and attended appointments at the nearby hospital.
On October 23, 2013, Safiya was born. Shannon was thankful that RMHNA was so close to the hospital because it enabled her to stay with all of her children. When Safiya was discharged, RMHNA became her first home.
Over the next several weeks, the family enjoyed the comforts of RMHNA: home-cooked meals, activities, play areas and a community of other families. Seeing other families make it through their journeys gave the Swenias courage and strength to make it through their own. These families turned into lifelong friends.
The comforts of the House became clear during Safiya’s second surgery. The House was running at capacity so the family was unable to book a room. Shannon was sleeping on benches in the hospital and eating poorly. She missed the healthy meals at RMHNA. Shannon also felt the strain of being separated from her husband and sons who stayed in Fort McMurray.
“When families stay together, it allows them to be stronger and heal better and faster. We saw and experienced this watching other families who were not at RMHNA and their struggles seemed even bigger. It was hard to watch. I believe Safiya healed better because we were together,” says Shannon.
Safiya requires a third heart surgery when she turns three. If that is successful, she could live a fairly normal life. If her health declines, she may need a heart transplant. “Even the healthy aren’t guaranteed a tomorrow, so we are living life to the fullest.”
The Swenia family is now inspiring others in their community to become involved with RMHNA through the meals program. Book your breakfast, lunch, dinner or hospital lunch delivery today.