RMHC North Australia

The Downes Family

Emily and Chris Downes began their stay at Ronald McDonald House Charities when they discovered Emily had a high-risk pregnancy.

She was quickly taken from Mt Isa to the Townsville General Hospital at 30 weeks pregnant. After four weeks staying at Ronald McDonald House, just over the road from the Townsville Hospital, the Downes Family welcomed their newest addition, a baby boy named Jack.

When Jack was born, it was discovered that he had hydrops. A fetal condition characterized by an accumulation of fluid.

“Jack was born very sick and had to be resuscitated; he was taken straight to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where the amazing Doctors and Nurses looked after him,” said Emily.

Jack remained in hospital for four months after his birth, receiving lifesaving treatment while Emily, Chris, brother Blake and sister Paige lived right across the road from him at Ronald McDonald House in Townsville.

With the support from staff and volunteers, the House became their sanctuary. It allowed the Downes to be close to baby Jack whist still remaining as a family unit.

“We spent Christmas and Easter at Ronald McDonald House and although these times were hard being away from other family and friends, we were made to feel so special and the House really did become our home away home,” said Emily.

“We were also lucky enough to have a family unit toward the end of our stay, which meant so much as we could have family meals, watch movies and keep Blake and Paige in a normal routine. Jack even got a day pass to come over to our unit to be with us as a family.” Emily said.

“As a mother, having my children and family with me in such a time of stress and unknowing meant the world. I was able to be the best mum I could be to all three of my children. This is something that you cannot put a price on.”

“We were given a gift by every single person involved at Ronald McDonald House Charities, and we cannot wait for the day when we can bring Jack back to Townsville and show him the place that kept us together when we needed it most,” said Emily.

Jack is now 15 months old and has spent nearly half of his life in hospital.

The Downes family spent 149 nights at Ronald McDonald House in Townsville.

They have now moved from Mt Isa and have settled in New South Wales while Jack continues to grow stronger every day.