When Alex Matthews and Christiajona Mattingly found out their daughter, Kira, would be born with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, a life threatening condition, their lives were turned upside-down. Alex and Christiajona turned to the staff at Shands Children’s Hospital to find somewhere to stay close by. They were told about the Ronald McDonald House of Gainesville and it became their home from the day before Kira was born on November 5th, 2009 until she was discharged from the hospital on March 11th, 2010.
“Everyone will tell you that having a child in the hospital is the worst feeling possible,” Alex said. “We were feeling completely depressed when we first got to the House, but the staff helped us a lot.”
The connections Alex and Christiajona made with the staff and volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House helped them feel at home and the services provided were greatly appreciated. House Director Theresa was a valuable asset during their stay and they were glad she was there to talk to.
“Everyone was a great help,” Alex said. “There are always a lot of people around.”
Christiajona remembers using the laundry room at the House a lot during their stay.
“You would be surprised how many clothes a baby in the hospital can go through,” she said.
The other families also helped them to see that their situation was not as bad as others’. As Alex said, “It could always be worse.” This gave Alex and Christiajona hope and the stories of other families only added to it and strengthened their relationships with people at the Ronald McDonald House.
“All the people in the House were really great,” Alex said. “We had so many laughs with all the different people and are still in contact with a lot of them. They really helped us.”
Alex and Christiajona want people in the same situation to remember that they should never give up hope. The Ronald McDonald House of Gainesville gave them a place to call home during a stressful time. Kira is now doing much better and may no longer need heart surgery. She is a happy, healthy, smiley baby at home with her parents in Tallahassee.