When Grace Beers was four years old, her kidneys failed her.
Grace began her battle with Nephrotic Syndrome at the age of two, but her doctors were optimistic. Nephrotic Syndrome is a disease that causes the kidneys to malfunction, but most children eventually grow out of it.
However, it was during a routine doctor visit in August 2006 when Grace learned she was not so fortunate. Her disease had begun to progress and her kidneys were failing. Grace started dialysis treatments immediately, while doctors began looking for an organ donor. The sudden shift in the severity of Grace’s disease left her family facing a number of unknowns, and 200 miles away from their home in Harbor Springs, Michigan.
The family was immediately referred to the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan as a place to stay while Grace regained strength to return home, continue dialysis, and anxiously await word of a possible organ donor.
A month later, the family returned home and the news came that Grace’s father, Kevin, was indeed a match. Preparations began, and Grace received her father’s kidney in place of her own ailing one.
Grace’s recovery was rapid, progressing even faster than doctors had hoped. And after years of dietary restrictions, she could finally enjoy her favorite treats: Popsicles and peanut M&Ms.
During the six months before and following the transplant, Grace’s parents once again called the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan home. Not only did the house provide them a place to stay, it provided meals, transportation, laundry service and an atmosphere where they could relax – away from the hospital – and enjoy time with family and friends.
“It was so wonderful not to have to worry about grocery shopping, laundry or a hot meal on top of everything else,” said Amanda, Grace’s mother. “It was a place we could be together as a family, even during the Easter holiday. It felt like home.”
For Amanda, the best part of her Ronald McDonald House experience was the opportunity to develop friendships with other families staying at the House, people she could talk with who had children in similar health crises. It was ususally during dinnertime at the House when this impromptu "support group" would come together, listen and lend support to one another.