"We found ourselves in a world that we didn’t know existed"
Guest Blogger: Peter Jones
In the summer of 2015, my wife Suzie and I found ourselves in a world that we didn’t know existed when our 13 day old son Cameron collapsed at our local hospital in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
Cameron had suffered a cardiac collapse, caused by a viral infection that had attacked his heart. His full diagnosis was Enterovirus Myocarditis and Meningitis, and doctors told us that he only had a 33% chance of getting off life support successfully and going on to live a “normal” life. That night, Cameron was transported to Southampton Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) on full life support. Suzie and I said goodbye to Cameron in theatre to drive the 88 miles to Southampton; doctors had told us that it was highly unlikely Cameron would make the journey.
On our first night we arrived in Southampton at around 2am, and Cameron arrived shortly afterwards, still on life support. We slept for a couple of hours in the PICU accommodation. Knowing we were potentially in for a long stay at Southampton, we were concerned about how we would care for our other children during our stay. Then, one of the PICU team told us about Ronald McDonald House Charities and we were taken to the House. Michelle, the House manager, gave us a tour of the house before taking us to our room, which we ended up staying in for 49 nights.
Cameron was moved out of PICU to the children’s cardiac ward. The next evening, Suzie visited the hospital to find that Cameron had suffered a second cardiac collapse. She had no phone signal in the hospital. The first I knew about what was happening was when the mum of one of the other children knocked on our room door, saying I needed to get to Suzie and Cameron. Since the House is on the hospital grounds, it also meant I could get to Cameron with a two minute sprint through the corridors.
The House not only provided us with invaluable accommodation, being located so close to the children’s ward actually played a part in saving Cameron’s life that evening. The community of parents within the House was also a central hub for everyone during some of the worst moments of their lives.
The facilities that were available in the House were everything you needed from the dining facilities with a place for cold and frozen food, through to the laundry facilities. We also had a safe and secure environment for our other children to stay with us. They made full use of the playroom at the House which allowed them to have fun, taking some stress out of the horrible situation we found ourselves in as a family unit.
Since our stay at the House, Cameron has since gone on to make an almost full recovery and enjoying time with his sisters. We visit the House regularly and help with fundraising wherever we can. It is always great to visit the staff who were so helpful, friendly and supportive throughout our stay.
We will never be able to thank Ronald McDonald House Charities enough for their help during the darkest days of our life. We are forever indebted to such an amazing charity.