As a teenager, Kendra Smith required a double lung transplant. She was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) as an infant. The complex, progressive disease caused her to undergo years of treatment, including oral medications—often more than a dozen at a time—and daily breathing treatments. Her condition made it difficult for her to gain and to retain weight. Even as a teenager, she struggled to reach a weight of 100 lbs.
When Kendra was 15, her lungs had deteriorated to a point that she could not achieve necessary oxygen levels, resulting in the need for supplemental oxygen treatments during activities and sleep. By the time she was 19, her lungs were functioning at only 30 percent. After 18 months on the donor transplant list, Kendra received a call in November that a set of lungs was available. She underwent a 12 hour surgery that same night.
A resident of Pullman, Mich., approximately an hour south of Grand Rapids, Kendra could not go home immediately after her 20-day stay at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
“I needed to stay close by for follow-up appointments and to make sure everything was going okay after surgery,” she said. “After I was discharged from the hospital, I started my stay at the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan. It was such a blessing, as a hotel or extended stay at the hospital would have been a major financial burden for me and my family.”
Kendra’s stay at the House lasted just over two weeks.
“The meals were great! Every time someone came in to donate their time and cooking skills I actually got quite excited about what was for dinner that night,” said Kendra. “I also believe having other families there to have a conversation with and showing their support for me was amazing. Being at the House allowed me to focus solely on my recovery.”