Emily Marie’s Story

Last week we received an unexpected phone call at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond.

“I just wanted to call to say ‘thank you’ for all that you did to help my family,” Melody Torres began. “I had been sleeping in a chair in Emily Marie’s hospital room until I met Dayna from RMHC Richmond.”

As Melody explained, her daugher, Emily Marie, was born at just 24 weeks gestation and spent the first seven months of her life in the hospital. Finally, in February of 2018, she was discharged to go home for the first time.

But her homecoming was short lived. GI issues brought Emily Marie and mother Melody back to the hospital again and again — 17 times over the next 12 months.

During Emily Marie’s most recent hospitalization at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, Dayna from RMHC Richmond’s staff invited Melody to stay overnight in a RMHC Family Room. These sleep rooms, located within the walls of the hospital and just down the hall from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, are a place where caregivers can find rest and respite — just footsteps from their sick child.

“My husband travels for work a lot and our family only has one car. It makes things really complicated when your child is in the hospital and you don’t have transportation,” Melody added.

For Melody, the sleep room meant a private space with a comfortable bed, a hot shower, and quiet rest without ever having to leave the hospital. It meant Melody did not have to worry about transportation, and that she was always close to Emily Marie.

“The meals provided by RMHC Richmond were also so helpful!” Melody continued. “Food at the hospital is expensive and can really add up when you are spending multiple days there.”

In addition to the RMHC Family Room, Melody enjoyed RMHC Richmond’s Lunches with Love program which delivers fresh lunches five days a week (which are donated and prepared by RMHC volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House) directly to the hospital for families with children receiving treatment.

After three weeks in the hospital and receiving new GI Tubes and a new type of formula, Emily Marie was released to return home.

“We’re still getting used to the new tubes and new feeding process, but Emily Marie remains happy and in good spirits,” Melody explained. “She is a smiley and independent girl and loves watching her favorite show, Pocoyo, and spending time with her favorite person, her Daddy. RMHC Richmond made our hospital stay so much easier.”