May 23, 2018
"When your child gets sick, it's devastating."
After an unremarkable pregnancy, nothing could have prepared Jennifer and Jeff Anderson for what happened after the birth of their son, Manning, in September 2017.
Within days, the newborn started to exhibit signs of serious illness. By Oct. 5, he was being transported from hospital in Peterborough to Toronto.
“My stomach was topsy turvy, upside down,” recalls Jeff about that anxious ambulance ride. In Toronto, Manning was diagnosed with viral meningitis and his organs started to fail. His heart was in particularly bad shape. By Oct. 10, Manning’s doctors advised the family to “get him baptized now if you need to get him baptized.”
And then, unexpectedly, things started to improve.
Manning began retaining less water. His hands and feet became less cold. He started to eat a bit.
“We had a feeling his heart was getting better,” says Jennifer, and tests soon confirmed that. By December, doctors told the Andersons he was strong enough to be put on a wait list for a heart transplant.
On Dec. 18, Manning was discharged from the hospital and the family – which includes five-year-old daughter, Regan, and Jeff’s mom, Janet – came to live at the House to wait. Patients on transplant wait lists must always stay close to the hospital.
“Coming here blew my mind,” says Jeff. “The staff, the volunteers, the accommodations were more than anyone could ever ask for. The House became our second home.”
The Andersons enrolled Regan in the RMHC School, where she thrived, and began to take advantage of the many other support programs and services available at the House. They especially appreciated the opportunity to bond with other families going through similar circumstances.
“We are all in the same boat,” says Jeff, “and it helped a lot to talk.”
This March, the Andersons received their best news yet from the doctors. To everyone’s surprise, Manning’s heart had healed enough that he no longer needed to actively wait for a transplant. While he still may need one in the future, the Andersons got the go-ahead to return home to Peterborough as long as Manning comes back for regular tests on his heart.
“I’m happy to be home,” says Jeff, “but I’m also relieved to know that RMHC Toronto will be there for us if we need it again in the future.”
Adds Jennifer, “When your child gets sick and there’s nothing you can do about it, it’s devastating. But RMHC Toronto allowed us to remain a family and focus on helping Manning get better. We wouldn’t be where we are today without this place.”