“RMHC Toronto is a big part of our life and our son’s journey. We’re just like anybody. You never know when you might need something like this, and it changes the way you look at life. We’ve watched our son grow up here.” – Samuel’s mom, Renée

When Renée and Thierry visited the nursery to take their newborn son home in 2020, they received a shock. Nurses had given baby Samuel an emergency IV and put him on oxygen because he had failed a newborn screening test.

Suddenly, the new parents found themselves travelling nearly 1,000 kilometres from their home in Hearst, Ont., to SickKids Hospital in Toronto. Samuel and his mother were airlifted, while dad Thierry had to make his own way down to Toronto.

Panicked, and with no idea what to expect, Renée and Thierry had only the clothes on their backs, and no place to stay.

In Toronto, doctors diagnosed Samuel with a rare and complex heart defect. For several nights, Renée and Thierry slept in the Ronald McDonald Family Room at SickKids until they were able to receive a room at RMHC Toronto’s House. There, the family could wait together for Sammie to grow enough to undergo surgery. They arrived before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ll never forget my first day at the House,” says Renée. “It was 7 p.m. and dinner had just been served. Families were eating dinner in the kitchen, people just like us, and I was crying, thinking: I can’t believe I’m here. Being at RMHC Toronto was both comforting and a reality check — like, okay, my son’s really sick.”

Almost two years later, Sammie’s family found themselves back at RMHC Toronto when he required another surgery. Renée had been dreading returning to Toronto and reliving the trauma that marked Sammie’s first few months of life. But once she returned to RMHC Toronto, her anxieties immediately eased.

“As a mom in this situation, you’re constantly afraid, always in Mama Bear mode. But RMHC Toronto is a comforting place for Sammie. Seeing my kid feeling happy and safe… it’s a massive weight off my shoulders.”

Renée and Thierry are so grateful to generous donors like you, whose compassion has helped them through such an unthinkably difficult time. “As a family being immersed in this charity, it changes how you understand the impact that donors make,” she says.

“It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to save one, too. I’m so grateful to everyone who helped us get to the point where we can take our son home so we can have a normal life.”

Sammie and his parents went home this August, but thousands more families with stories just like theirs come through our door every year. The support of our donors has a life-changing impact on families with seriously ill children. To support families like Sammie’s, please consider making a donation to RMHC Toronto.