Imagine you have a normal, healthy pregnancy ends with an emergency C-section and a congenital heart defect. As the reality of the situation sets in, imagine the looming burden of medical costs.
Misty Walker Childress’ son Graham was diagnosed at birth (April 20, 2016) with Aortic Stenosis, Coarctation of the Aorta, Ventricular Septal Defect, Atrial Septal Defect. He was immediately flown to Dallas Children’s Medical Center (April 21, 2016). He had his first open heart surgery to place pulmonary artery bands (April 25, 2016) and a stent placed to keep his PFO open (April 28, 2016). He was inpatient for 6 weeks.
He also had a heart cath to balloon his aortic valve (June 23, 2016) to buy him more time until his “repair” surgery, which he needed to get bigger and stronger for. He had his repair surgery (October 10, 2016), and was inpatient for 8 weeks before being cleared to come home (December 8, 2016).
He was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism and hydronephrosis and hydroureter. The family found out in January that his right kidney stopped growing, leaving him with one functioning kidney that is dilated.
Misty’s husband Clay was told about Ronald McDonald house while Misty was recovering after an emergency C-section. The family got a room at the Ronald McDonald house in Dallas that provided them a place to sleep comfortably. They stayed at the house in between Graham’s surgeries, as the Heart Center recommend he be within 30 minutes of Dallas Children’s since his aortic stenosis was critical.
Graham’s brothers Ian (12) and Brady (8) were able to stay with them as well. The house hosted summer camps, provided donated tickets to sporting events and also served three meals per day. Since Misty and Clay don’t have Medicaid, the cost per night was $15 per day. They will also be able to stay when they return for follow up appointments, procedures and other necessary trips until Graham turns 18.
“This is a lifelong thing,” said Misty. But through it all I’ve realized that we can’t spend our time being mad or sad about his diagnosis. It’s our life now and we have to find things to be thankful for. Our faith has never been shook. We are blessed to spend time with him and we know he’ll get through it.”
A Dallas photographer, who donates her time and photography to the patients staying at the Ronald McDonald house in Dallas, took photos of the Childress family. The family was notified in May that Ronald McDonald Charities wanted permission to use the boys’ photo for their donation boxes at McDonald’s nationwide starting in August 2017.
“It was a total surprise for us,” said Misty. “You never think that it could be you or your family.”
Throughout the whole ordeal Misty said she and her family are glad for the help the house provided, for the workers and the other families fighting similar battles. There were always people to talk to and it’s caused her to take on a whole new appreciation for everything.
“We’re so in awe of everyone that’s helped us,” she said. “Everyone that’s prayed for us or made donations on our behalf. This is about Graham and his story. It’s horrible it happened, but this medical problem and the house exist. I urge everyone to donate to a Ronald McDonald House to help others in situations similar to our own. I urge everyone to donate toward research for treatment and cures for congenital heart disease or any other disease for that matter.”
For more information go online to https://www.rmhc.org.