Ellie's first laugh

February 27, 2019
The Shuttleworth family explains why RMHC Toronto made all the difference after their daughter was born early
Ellie Shuttleworth, held by her mother and father
Ellie Shuttleworth let out her first little laugh last week.

It was a huge milestone for her parents, Brittany and Joshua. Their world was turned upside down last August.

While in Toronto for an ultrasound, Brittany unexpectedly went into labour – six weeks early. And while they knew that baby Ellie would be born with complications, they quickly learned her challenges were more serious than expected.

“It was very scary in the beginning, so it was a huge relief to get into Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto,” says Brittany.

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Prior to Ellie’s premature birth, the family from Kirkland Lake, Ont. thought they’d only need to be in Toronto for one month. But one month quickly turned into five months while Ellie underwent multiple surgeries to repair her intestines and abdominal wall.

“We can’t imagine our lives without RMHC Toronto,” says Joshua.


The House enabled the new parents to be together and to be close to Ellie while she recovered at the hospital from each of her life-saving procedures. Kirkland Lake is 600 km from Toronto, and that’s much too far away for them to commute.  

“We couldn’t bear to be away from Ellie,” says Joshua. “With our comfortable room to sleep in, the kitchen and the laundry facilities, we were able to relax and take care of ourselves a bit too. It was also nice to be able to talk to other parents in similar situations. We didn’t feel so alone.

“RMHC Toronto helped us to feel as normal as possible.”

Last year, 4,735 families like Ellie’s came to RMHC Toronto for support. That’s a new family almost every two hours. A new family facing a frightening diagnosis and an uncertain future.  

“It’s indescribable how much every little bit helps,” says Joshua. “Families could not be families without the House.”

Families depend on donors. Thank you for supporting RMHC Toronto.

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