For Chris and Brandi Barefoot the excitement of having their first child turned to nervous worrying when they found out that their son Aiden would be born with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). CDH is a life-threatening condition in which a baby is born with a hole in his or her diaphragm. Surgery is needed to repair the hole soon after birth to increase the baby’s chance of survival. Chris and Brandi traveled to Gainesville from Panama City, FL, to receive treatment at Shands Children’s Hospital from Dr. David Kays, one of the leading CDH surgeons in the country. They wanted to have the best possible care for their baby.
Because Aiden would be in the hospital for more than a month, Chris and Brandi needed to find somewhere to stay close to Shands. Thanks to Dr. Kays’ website they were able to find the Ronald McDonald House of Gainesville, where they stayed from two weeks before Aiden’s birth on May 5th, 2009 until early June 2009. There was a lot of uncertainty about the future when the couple first got to the House, but they quickly felt at home.
“We were pretty nervous and didn’t know what to expect, but we liked meeting the staff,” Brandi said. “It felt more like a house than a hotel. It has everything you have at home.”
Through Aiden’s treatment everyone at the Ronald McDonald House worked to comfort Chris and Brandi. Brandi remembers a volunteer always asking her for an update of how Aiden was progressing and the staff being available at all times to speak with. She could feel how much they truly cared.
“Theresa (the House Director) was absolutely amazing,” Brandi said. “Some ladies made blankets for the children and she let us come into her office and choose one for Aiden.”
During the Barefoot’s stay, there were four other families at the Ronald McDonald House of Gainesville who had babies with CDH being treated by Dr. Kays. They provided a lot of emotional support for Chris and Brandi.
“It was nice to have that support,” Brandi said. “Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernias are pretty rare so it was unusual to have so many of us in the House at once. We are still in contact with the families.”
Aiden has been doing extremely well despite a brief scare in April 2010 that turned out to be a false alarm. Brandi said she and Chris would definitely recommend the Ronald McDonald House of Gainesville to people with children in the hospital. They could not be more enthusiastic about their time spent at the House and are looking forward to visiting the staff in the future.