Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Virus shock ordeal gives new meaning to McHappy Day involvement

By Olivia Duffey

As a manager at Deniliquin McDonald’s, Kahli Reves has always understood the importance of McHappy Day and Ronald McDonald House Charities.

But the event holds more meaning for Kahli and her husband Anthony, after their son required urgent medical attention just three months ago.

Then six months old, Liam had contracted respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) which causes infection of the lungs and breathing passages.

‘‘We just thought it was bronchiolitis, like kids get a couple of times a year anyway, but when he wasn’t getting better and was really struggling to breath we went to Deniliquin Hospital,’’ Mrs Reves said.

‘‘We were in Deni at 9am in the morning, by 5pm we were in Shepparton and by 2am we were in Melbourne at the the Royal Children’s Hospital.

‘‘He was pretty sick. He was on high flow oxygen and he wasn’t drinking, so they put a nasogastric tube in and he had an IV in.

‘‘The first 24 hours we were in Melbourne he had to be sedated because he was having so much trouble breathing. He was just getting so upset, crying, red in the face and screaming so they literally had to knock him out. It was awful.’’

Liam was hospitalised for a week in Melbourne, and the family sought help from the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

‘‘We had no time to pack between being sent to different hospitals, and because we were so far from home and going to be there for a whole week, we would have needed to stay in hotels,’’ Mrs Reeves said.

‘‘The hospital only has space for one parent to sleep in the room, and the hotels would have cost us more than a $1000 for the week.

‘‘So I asked the nurses on the ward to got on to a social worker for us, because I knew they had a charity there in Melbourne.

‘‘I didn’t know if just anyone could use it, but the social worker basically just filled in a piece of paper and within an hour and a half we had keys for somewhere we could shower and sleep.

‘‘We took turns at staying there; one of us stayed in the hospital and one stayed at the house every night we were there. We are absolutely grateful for it.’’

Mrs Reeves said while Liam was six weeks premature, she never expected to need help from Ronald McDonald House.

‘‘If he was born one day earlier, we would have been down in Melbourne probably using a Ronald McDonald house, but after he was born you never would think we would need to use it,’’ she said.

‘‘You hope your kids never get that sick. You just don’t think it is something that would happen to you, especially as our daughter Charlotte (4) has always been okay.

‘‘Liam is still trying to recover. RSV is something that will get better and worse for a while, so we still have a long journey ahead of us waiting for him to get better.

‘‘But we would not have been at this point without Ronald McDonald House Charities.’’

The Reeves family has shared their story in the hopes of inspiring more people to get involved in McHappy Day this year.

A fundraiser will be held at Deniliquin McDonald’s on November 16 and proceeds are donated to support Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Funds will not only support accommodation for families of sick children, but also the Ronald McDonald Learning Program, Ronald McDonald Family Rooms and Ronald McDonald Family Retreats.

‘‘If there is anything you can do to help, please do,’’ Mrs Reeves said.

‘‘And businesses, if you can donate a raffle prize before the day that would be great.

‘‘On the day, $2 from every Bic Mac burger sold goes directly to Ronald McDonald House Charities, and 100 per cent of all funds raised on the day goes directly there to.

‘‘People can also come and buy a helping hand that we stick to the wall, we have the silly socks in adults and kid sizes, there is a raffle, car window washing in the drive through and a circus themed party room where kids can go and make their own masks or colour in.

‘‘You never know when it is going to be you who needs to use Ronald McDonald House Charities — it could be you, your friends, kids or family and it can happen out of the blue — so I encourage everyone to donate what they can or even support the day by coming along.’’