Family Stories

My gratitude goes to the second home which has brought the happiness of being with my kid.

November 19, 2011 Yu Sato Katsutoshi Sato

We have two children: Ayu, our 8 year old daughter, and Aoi, our 6 year old son.
When Ayu was 10 months old, she had a febrile convulsion as a side effect of a preventive vaccination. She has never fallen sick or ill, but has suffered convulsions from unknown causes six times.
On October 28, 2003, Ayu became the sister to a little brother.
Aoi was born six days past his due date. There were no problems during the delivery, but at 7 months he could not sit up on his own and at 8 months he could not crawl. At his 7 to 8 month medical check-up, the doctor said that something was wrong and referred us to Miyagi Children’s Hospital, where he underwent tests for half a year.
Eventually, a neurologist diagnosed that he may have “Mitochondrial Leigh syndrome”.
It was the first time I had heard about this disease. Aoi had never been sick, but might be suffering from a serious illness…
In our day-to-day life together, I always vaguely wondered if he indeed was suffering from the disease. A little after turning 2 years old, Aoi was gradually able to sit up by himself, and then a month later was able to crawl. I began to think that “maybe he isn’t ill after all”, until the incident that occurred when he was 3 years old and could stand up momentarily by holding on to something.
At 2:20pm on November 20, Aoi suddenly had a convulsive seizure. Right up until the convulsions, he had been smiling and eating snacks while watching “Lion King”, one of his favorite movies.
His entire body turned black as I was calling an ambulance, and the convulsions would not stop even after administering convulsion medication. I did not panic in my response since I had also handled Ayu’s convulsions, but Aoi’s convulsions did not stop even after 10 minutes had passed.
While I was in worry and fear, we finally reached the hospital where Aoi was immediately taken to ICU.
It was there that the doctor told me “it may be that the dormant illness has become active. You should prepare yourself.”
I could not believe my ears and was stunned.
It was then that I was told that I could not stay with my son in ICU. The hospital was far from my home and I was worrying about what I should do when the hospital staff told me about the Ronald McDonald House.
Despite the short notice, the House manager said “No problem! We can prepare a room for you” and made me feel welcome. I still remember the sense of reassurance at being able to stay near Aoi and the hospital, in the midst of my feelings of anxiety.
From that day, although there were times of strong fear in our family, I received constant encouragement from the kindness of the House manager, the concern of the volunteers who would say “Are you okay? You need to eat more!”, the cheerful voices of the children staying at the House, and conversions with the other fathers and mothers who became my friends. I do not think I would have felt this sense of reassurance or had the time to talk to others if the House was not located near the hospital.
Ayu was a kindergartener and could not stay with me or Aoi on weekdays, but on Saturdays, she could come and spend the night at the House, see her brother, and play with her friends she made at the House. It was painful for the young siblings to part and Ayu would cry when she said “Bye for now, Aoi”, to which I would often say “you’ll be able to play again because we have the House”.
During his half year stay in the hospital, Aoi was confined to his bed. He was unable to eat and drink, and was fed through suction and injection. Aoi would cry, and I also wept every day from watching Aoi suffer and through the numerous things that needed to be learned. Eventually Aoi’s condition gradually began to stabilize, and we were able to use the House to practice his discharge from the hospital. The House was Aoi’s first trip outdoors after being confined to bed, and he gazed with shining eyes at his surroundings and the faces of the manager and volunteers. Thanks to the House’s vicinity to the hospital, we were able to slowly practice his return home, to our family’s delight.
I have subsequently stayed at the House when he has surgery or long-term hospital stays.
For parents and children staying at hospitals, the greatest happiness we wish for is to be able to be near each other. Ronald McDonald Houses are wonderful in that they bring about that “happiness of being near each other”. Without the Houses, parents would not be able to stay near their children and suffer even more than simply the pain of the illness. In addition, the inexpensive 1,000 yen per night cost of staying at a House is much appreciated since there is a considerable financial burden in a hospital stay. The Houses are equipped with not only lodging facilities but also kitchens and other such facilities, making it possible for parents to prepare meals that the children prefer to eat, children to play with other children, and parents to share their worries with each other. The Houses allow parents to do various things while staying with their children.
It is my hope that promoting greater awareness of the Houses among more people will allow more families with ill children to be able to spend time together without being apart. In closing, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of the people involved in the House who offer us encouragement and support, and everyone who has helped in fund-raising or made donations.
Thank you to my “Home Away From Home”.

  • Yuki Urakawa

    Yuki Urakawa

  • Kanako Otsuki

    Kanako Otsuki

  • Toshiki Terasaki

    Toshiki Terasaki

    The volunteers and House staff gave us a lift. We appreciate it.

  • Mari Nemoto

    Mari Nemoto

    I can go and see my son every day. My son smiles at me. RMH is the place that has made all these possible.

  • Misako Terada

    Misako Terada

    Owing to the House, my family could stay together and have time to take good care of my sons

  • Yuko Hiramatsu

    Yuko Hiramatsu

    Relationships and Encounters with People at the House Are Treasure for Our Family.

  • Naoko Saito

    Naoko Saito

    Thanks to the House, we could stay together.

  • Hisako Yamazaki

    Hisako Yamazaki

    The House is like our home close to the hospital.

  • Hikari Miyauchi

    Hikari Miyauchi

    The House always provides a strong support to us.

  • Michiko Gomi

    Michiko Gomi

    Owing to the relaxing House, I could take good care of my daughter.

  • Akiko Kyozuka

    Akiko Kyozuka

    The time at the House healed our depressing hearts.

  • Marin Tanioka

    Marin Tanioka

    The House brought a smile to my daughter and made her say “I feel safe with you, mother. It’s fun to stay here!”

  • Michiru Iizuka Miho Nakamura

    Michiru Iizuka
    Miho Nakamura

    Communicating with mothers in a similar environment are soothing.

  • Yumi Muraoka

    Yumi Muraoka

    Thanks to the House, our family can share a happy time in a while.

  • Yukie Fujiwara

    Yukie Fujiwara

    I am happy to lead an ordinary life even my child is hospitalized.

ハウス利用者の声

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