By Helen Shingler:
Many of you reading this will already be aware of the journey of baby Ernie Cherone through his Facebook page set up by parents, Louie and Gemma Cherone. For those who don’t, Ernie was born on 6th July 2018 and the initial diagnosis soon after birth was that he had a coarctation of the aorta, aortic stenosis and a small left ventricle and possible bicuspid valve. Basically in his Dad’s own words: ‘he needs some fixing up’. Surgery would not usually be possible for any of those issues until Ernie was bigger but then a week later Ernie’s hospital team were optimistic that the original problems were only 50% those first diagnosed. On the 20th of July Ernie underwent a six and a half hour by-pass surgery and this would be the most traumatic time for any parent, but Louie and Gemma have shown amazing fortitude, faith in the NHS and optimism throughout and I have to say that in writing this post, I have huge admiration for them both and as a parent and grandparent personally feel very emotional. The good news is that Ernie is now home with his parents and big brother Hobie and doing really well.
Louie, Gemma and Hobie went through a difficult journey themselves during the past month and this post hopes to raise awareness not only the fantastic NHS we have and sometimes do not appreciate but the plight of parents like Louie and Gemma who have to cope with a newborn who needs long-term hospitalisation a long way from home (and who may also have siblings too). It is emotionally, mentally, physically and often financially draining to have to cope with long-distance driving backwards and forwards to a hospital many miles from home and have the concern of trying to maintain a normal family life with other young children over a period of time that could stretch on for several weeks.
The charity Ronald McDonald House came to the aid of the Cherone family on this occasion and have done for many other families. Originally set up in the late 1970’s with a connection to MacDonald’s it became an independent charity in the late 1980s. The Houses give families somewhere to lay their heads at night while their child is in hospital. The accommodation is provided free of charge and for as long as families need it, sparing them some of the financial issues that can arise during a prolonged hospital stay. Their Houses are fitted with everything a family could need to make themselves feel at home.
In Louie’s own words: ‘The biggest hurdle we had was that we were not allowed to stay next to him on intensive care. So the Ronald McDonald house put us up in a fantastic room and even some nights provided us with food from the community. This meant we didn’t have to drive the 2 1/2 hour drive to Bristol to see our son and we could be close by when needed.
It also meant with the room our son Hobie could stay and also they have a play area for little ones on site.’
Louie and Gemma want to give something back for the fantastic help they received and left a small donation to the charity when they brought Ernie home. Louie now wants to make a more substantial donation through offering one of his boards at House of Cre8tion in a Raffle at £5 a ticket to be drawn on 1st December by Ernie’s big brother Hobie! This has escalated with other prizes being donated by those who have been inspired by Ernie’s journey and who appreciate the incredible difference that Ronald McDonald houses make across the country to families who need this help. Those of us who live so far from major hospitals, as we do in Cornwall, can really understand why this help is needed.
Please check out the House of Cre8tion‘s Facebook page for further information on the Raffle and the prizes on offer. There are no limits to the number of tickets you can purchase. If you would like to donate a prize that would be great too! All proceeds will go to the charity and will help them to continue to provide this wonderful service to other families like The Cherones. There is always a very long waiting list for this type of accommodation.
You can message Louie through his business page and there will be further updates on how to buy tickets and where they are available. I will also write follow up posts on Bude and Beyond. Please support this wonderful cause if you can, Louie, Gemma, Hobie and Ernie will be very grateful as well as the many other families in the future who will benefit from the care and support of the Ronald McDonald Houses. Thank you for reading.