10 Dec Meet the McGee Family
Kristen McGee, Ronald McDonald House guest and mother to 4-year-old Jocelyn
“Jocelyn, my four year old daughter, is the strongest little girl I know! Just at two months old she had her first surgery. Jocelyn was born with an extremely rare disease, Chronic Granulomatous Disease. This disease affects the neutrophil cells, making it hard for the body to fight off certain bacteria and fungi. Before Jocelyn was one year old, she suffered through numerous infections such as staph, serratia, cellulitis, salmonella, coxsackie virus, pneumonia, and many other infections. Before 11 months old, she had already undergone 3 surgeries to clear out the infections. The only cure for this disease is a Bone Marrow Transplant.
We were lucky enough to be linked up with Dr. Kobrynski, Immunologist of Children’s Physician Group. After three years of caring for Jocelyn and keeping her infections away we had HLA testing performed on Jocelyn and her 5 year-old-sister Julliann. We found our girls were 100% matched for a bone marrow transplant.
The transplant took place at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston in Atlanta, Georgia. Once Jocelyn’s numbers were high enough, we were able to leave the hospital; however, could not go any further than 20 minutes from the hospital. This is where the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House became our saving grace. Our home is roughly 160 miles away from the hospital and, therefore, was not an option. Due to this fact the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House accepted us with open arms.
Because of the extremely low immune systems of transplant patients, the Ronald McDonald House has suites for transplant patients separate from the rest of the house. Jocelyn was absolutely ecstatic her first time seeing the house. Our suite has so much room and truly has become our “home-away-from-home.” Though, the house offers many fun filled activities to all the tenants in the house, due to the suppressed immune system Jocelyn has not been able to partake in them. Thanks to the exceptionally excellent staff at RMH, Jocelyn has not missed too much! On princess night, Jocelyn had four Disney Princesses come visit her in the suite. Merida, Belle, Cinderella, and Rapunzel all left signed autographs for Jocelyn, after having a photoshoot, and watching Jocelyn play! On another night, Jocelyn was allowed to come downstairs after all the other patients and tenants had left to spend time with the therapy dogs! Princess Belle has also made a special appearance here in the suite, and spent just over an hour with Jocelyn, coloring, taking pictures, and presenting Jocelyn with a tiara, necklace, and bracelet for being such a brave girl through this journey! I will never forget the look of pure joy on her face that night!
There are so many wonderful things I could say about life at the Ronald McDonald House… my family and I are eternally grateful. For not only meeting our physical needs by providing a shuttle to and from the hospital for Jocelyn’s appointments, but also for our emotional needs. There have been a few times I have fallen apart either in anger or tears. The staff at the house are always willing to lend a strong shoulder and listening ear. Though, we still have many weeks here, I am confident our needs and our happiness will continue to be an absolute priority, as it has since day one.”
Jocelyn and her older sister, Julliann, at the Ronald McDonald House