Our baby was born inside Ronald McDonald House. He was six weeks early and came into the world very suddenly and precipitously, with the courageous aid of Cincinnati Fire Station #32. It was a terrifying ordeal, but the staff and volunteers at the House did everything they could to help us. Shawnie Dukes of Ronald McDonald House held my hand as I delivered the baby. Executive Director Jennifer Goodin called my husband so he could be on the phone as our baby entered the world. My baby had already been diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome during an ultrasound, thus I knew that he would be born in very critical condition.
Henry Beckett Mercier spent the first 10 months of his life at Cincinnati Children's. I lived at the House for over a year. My middle son celebrated his fifth birthday at the House. I spent Easter, my 10th wedding anniversary and my 40th birthday at Ronald McDonald House. Without all of the support I received from RMHC, I could not have endured the separation from my family, the anguish over Henry's struggle and the extreme stress of constant medical decisions.
Henry survived two open heart surgeries, numerous catheterizations and a heart transplant before passing away during surgery from a stroke on October 31, 2005. He was nearly 13 months old. I will forever be grateful to the House and all who serve there for allowing me to be with my beautiful son for the precious little time we had together. It is my hope that those who know Henry's story will forever hold him warmly in their hearts.
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