A teenage boy sitting

Keeping Close: Elijah’s Story

October 1, 2020

At just 14-years-old, Elijah has spent more time in a hospital than most people spend in their lifetime. Born with a congenital heart defect, the teenager has undergone six open heart surgeries. This past August, after he started fainting, Elijah was diagnosed with heart failure, resulting in another surgery to replace a valve. Doctors then discovered a blood clot in his brain that required an additional surgery.

During these critical moments, Elijah’s Tolleson, Arizona family was able to stay just minutes away from the hospital at Ronald McDonald House®. “It would take us 45-50 minutes to get to the hospital from home,” dad Guillermo said. “But once we got here, we were less than three minutes away.”

Each of those precious minutes meant the world to Guillermo when it came to supporting his son. “I could look outside and see Phoenix Children’s Hospital right there and know that I was close to him. If we needed to be there, we just pushed the gas and we were there.”

Beyond being able to be close to Elijah when it mattered most, the House also provided the family with a support system who understood what they were going through. “They really made us feel welcome,” Guillermo said of the House, “Like we were their family member or a close family friend.”

Now stabilized, Elijah is focusing on the road to recovery, including both speech and physical therapy. After 28 nights, his family returned home to Tolleson, but know they will never forget the special gift the House provided to their family during an incredibly scary journey. “Ronald McDonald House made us feel at home for that period of time,” Guillermo said. “It will always have a room in my heart, just like the room you provided my family.”

Your donations to Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Central and Northern of Arizona means that dad’s like Guillermo can stay close to their child when minutes mean everything. Donate today to ensure that every family who needs us can call the House their “home-away-from-home.”