Marialena smiling with flowers in the background

Marialena had her first surgery within an hour of her birth. Doctors discovered before she was born that she had gastroschisis, a disorder where the intestines are outside the body. After two surgeries in her first week of life, Marialena was still unable to process food normally – she needed a feeding tube and another tube to receive medications.

Marialena was in and out of the hospital as she fought dangerous infections with fevers up to 105 degrees. By the time she turned one, her mom, Cattyana, had seen her daughter go through 13 surgeries and spent more than ten months living in the hospital. Doctors soon realized that Marialena needed a liver and small bowel transplant.

But Marialena’s doctors in Florida were unable to help her, so Cattyana began talking to doctors at Cincinnati Children’s. Right before Christmas, as they waited in line to see Santa at their local mall, Cattyana received the call – the doctors in Cincinnati were going to be able to help her daughter. Marialena was placed on the transplant list.

Cattyana and Marialena now live at our House as they wait for a transplant match. Cattyana is incredibly grateful for the comfortable room right next to the hospital, for the warm meals, and most importantly, for the support:

Ronald McDonald House is amazing. Being next to the hospital is priceless when you need to rush your child to the emergency room. And, after long days at the hospital, it’s so helpful to come ‘home’ to a warm meal. I would be homeless without the House, but instead I’m able to spend time with other guest families every day who can relate to this challenging experience. We support each other through all the ups and downs, and I know these friendships will continue even after we return home.