November 15, 2017
After staying at the House five years ago, the Lafonds are now finding support from our Family Room in Sudbury
When Julie Lafond went into labour with her third child in June 2012, she never could’ve imagined that her newborn son would be rushed to Toronto from their home in Sudbury. After two healthy previous deliveries and no prenatal red flags, baby Michel’s health issues were completely unexpected.
“It was scary,” says Julie. “It was a rush to fly Michel to Toronto. I couldn’t fly right away with him, so my parents had to drive the five hours with me so I could be by Michel’s side. My husband had to stay in Sudbury with our girls.”
Michel was born without an esophagus. His throat just stopped, and his stomach was connected to his trachea (lungs). Multiple surgeries were required to reconnect his esophagus to allow him to eat.
During this chaotic time, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto became an anchor for Julie and her family. She and her parents moved into the House while Michel was treated at SickKids for three weeks, keeping them close to his bedside. Julie’s husband, Michel Sr., and their two daughters came to visit on weekends.
“I was away from my husband and daughters, so it meant a lot that my parents could stay with me,” says Julie. “We were an easy walk away from the hospital, where I would be from morning until late at night. Knowing I was returning to a homemade dinner was amazing, and I would always be greeted at the door with a smile. Everyone felt like family.”
Today, Michel is a happy, growing boy. He’s in Senior Kindergarten and is obsessed with all things cars. “He wants to be a mechanic when he grows up,” says his mom.
But Michel continues to have health issues related to his condition, including trouble eating and asthma-like symptoms. He is routinely admitted to Health Sciences North in Sudbury where, once again, RMHC Toronto is there for his family. The Lafonds make use of our in-hospital Family Room during Michel’s stays.
“Sometimes you just need a break to get out of the hospital setting,” says Julie. “In the Family Room, there are no gurneys or nurses. There’s a fireplace and an armchair. You can relax in a home setting, not a hospital one.”