Derek and Lauren Ortado added Jude to their family in August of 2009. Unfortunately, his first few months of life were not the easiest. Derek and Lauren, who also have an older son, Aiden, 3, found out that Jude would be born with a severe case of Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) and decided to get the best care possible for him. The family traveled from Port St. Lucie to Gainesville 2 weeks before Jude’s birth to receive treatment from Dr. David Kays at Shands Children’s Hospital. The Ortado family spent three months at the Ronald McDonald House of Gainesville while Jude was in treatment. Staying somewhere with other people who understood what they were going through helped Derek and Lauren a lot.
“Knowing there were always people around really helped,” Lauren said. “There was nothing they wouldn’t do for you.”
Being in the House especially helped them with Aiden.
“We definitely used the playground and playroom often,” Lauren said. “He really loved them.”
Aiden also loved the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Stands. He had a great time drawing in it and the family found it useful to have.
Derek and Lauren greatly appreciated the Visiting Chefs who made dinner most nights. Not being responsible for one meal a day can alleviate some of the stress put on families in the House.
What helped Lauren most of all was the connection she made to another CDH family in the Ronald McDonald House. Both Lauren and the other mother checked into the House on the same day and their babies were both born on August 10th, 2009.
“We both went through the same thing,” Lauren said.
It was nice for both families to make a connection with someone who knew exactly what they were going through. CDH is a rare condition, but the Ronald McDonald House of Gainesville houses quite a few CDH families each year because of the amazing treatment provided by Dr. Kays at Shands Children’s Hospital.
Jude is now doing great despite originally being given a dismal prognosis. He is at home with his family in Port St. Lucie and has completely caught up to other babies his age. Lauren learned a lot at the Ronald McDonald House of Gainesville and has some advice for other families.
“I learned to believe in miracles,” Lauren said. “Definitely learn to accept the help that’s given to you. There are people who want to help.”
Meet some of the other families who stay here at the House and read their stories.