Focusing on Samantha

October 19, 2017
Sudbury family prepares for next step in journey after 17-month stay
Shawanda-Burgoyne family

When Samantha Burgoyne returns to Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto after being out and about for a few hours, she kicks her legs in excitement in her stroller.

RMHC Toronto is "home" to Samantha. While her family is from Sudbury, Ont., the House is the only home she’s ever known since being born in Toronto in May 2016 with complex heart issues.

After undergoing three heart surgeries within the first months of her life and suffering two strokes, doctors determined her only chance at life was a heart transplant. Samantha got that new heart on June 7, 2017, shortly after her first birthday.

“She’s got so much energy now,” says her delighted mother, Cassandra. “It’s phenomenal.”

The family has found a tremendous amount of support at RMHC Toronto.

“We’re really thankful for this place,” says Samantha’s father, Dwayne. “I don’t know where we would we could have stayed for a year and a half in Toronto without this House.” After 17 months, the House has grown into something a little different than a home away from home for the family. “For us, it’s just home,” he says.

They have also found comfort in talking to other families.

“In the beginning, we kept all our focus on Samantha. We were here for her,” says Cassandra. “After a while, we started talking to other families and found it was really helpful. No one fully understands what you are going through unless they are going through it themselves.”

As Samantha continues to get healthier after her transplant, the family is preparing for the next step in their journey. After so much time at the House, they are understandably a little nervous about what lies ahead. That might include formally moving to Toronto, so they can always stay close to Samantha’s doctors. As a transplant recipient, she will continue to need specialized medical care throughout her childhood and adult life.

Regardless of the changes that lie ahead, the family knows two things will never change.

“Samantha has never stopped being happy, smiley and strong. And, whatever is best for Samantha is what we are going to do,” says Cassandra.