Donor Leslie C. knows firsthand how much sick children need their families nearby

For seriously ill children, knowing that their parents are there during the scary experience of being in the hospital can make all the difference. Leslie, born in 1959 with spina bifida, knows this firsthand.

Her first six weeks of life were spent at SickKids Hospital. “My parents were there constantly,” she says, “and not a lot of kids get that. Through doctors’ appointments and surgeries, my parents did a lot of pacing in the waiting room.”

Unlike many children at the time, Leslie was lucky to have her mom and dad with her while she was in the hospital. Her family lived in Toronto, and her mother – a stay-at-home mom – never left Leslie’s side.

At the age of eight, Leslie faced another extended hospital stay. “My mom was at the hospital from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every single day,” says Leslie. “She became the ‘room mother’ because most of the kids didn’t get the support from their parents that I had, so she was there keeping an eye on all the other kids in my ward as well. If a kid needed something, she did it. My dad had to fit his visits in on evenings and weekends, so I only saw him a couple of hours a day, but I was so glad he was there.”

Sharing a room with another little girl revealed a stark contrast in experiences for Leslie. “She could be bratty,” she recalls, “but it was because she was there alone. She never got any attention. Another girl, my best friend, she was from Guelph and her parents never came to see her. I can’t even imagine not being close to my parents when I was going through all that stuff. I was a big crybaby when my parents weren’t around. I needed them.”

Leslie’s story is a testament to the importance of family support in a child’s healing process, and her experiences have made her passionate about it. Today, she honours her parents’ memory through her charitable support. Because she knows how much sick children need their families to be close, Leslie is proud to be a donor to RMHC Toronto.

“RMHC Toronto is a charity I believe in. Families need to be together when a child is sick. I couldn’t have gone through half the stuff I went through without my parents. To me, it’s important that other children going through this kind of experience don’t have to feel alone.”

In Canada, two out of three families live outside a city with a specialty children’s hospital and must travel for medical treatment if their child becomes seriously ill. Ronald McDonald House Charities provides a place for families to stay together, steps away from a children’s hospital.

Through her support, Leslie is helping to ensure that more families with seriously ill children have a place to stay together, close their child’s medical treatment. Because when families stay together, sick children get stronger.