A place to call home when far from their own

No parent ever wants to hear that their child is seriously ill.

Unfortunately, that news came to parents Erana and Steven when their sweet six-month old baby girl, Amara-Lee, was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, which causes a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain.

“She was sedated and wheeled away from us at ten o’clock Saturday morning for an MRI scan followed by emergency shunt surgery,” explains mum Erana.

“She came back to us at five o’clock that afternoon, still intubated and asleep. Waiting for her to wake up and look at us felt like a life time, but she finally did and it was the best feeling.”

The Saunders family, from Chillagoe, North Queensland, were able to stay at Ronald McDonald House Townsville, just steps away from the hospital, while they waited for Amara-Lee to recover.

“It was our home away from home at the time and we felt more than welcomed,” said dad Steven.

“The staff and volunteers are amazing, so welcoming, helpful, cheerful and happy.”

Ten days later, Amara-Lee was discharged and the Saunders family prepared themselves for the eight hour drive back home.

Sadly, only four days after they settled in at home, Amara-Lee started swelling again. She was immediately flown straight back to Townsville, where she was admitted.

Erana and Steven, alongside Amara-Lee’s big sister Lily-Rose, found themselves back at Ronald McDonald House, this time over the Christmas and New Year period. Instead of planning a family Christmas at home, they were faced with more worry and uncertainty about whether Amara-Lee would be ok.

“Being in the house for Christmas and New Year’s is something we will cherish forever,” said Erana.

“We woke to presents waiting at our door for our kids and ourselves. It made our day, and we will always be grateful that the staff at Ronald McDonald House went out of their way and did as much as they could to give our family a great holiday while our daughter was healing.”

The Saunders family are now back home and everyone is doing well.

The gifts that Amara-Lee, Lily-Rose, Erana and Steven received were made possible thanks to the generosity of the local community, on which we rely on to fund our practical care programs.