08 Feb Meet the Stone Family!
Katelyn’s mom, Katrina Stone, describes her families experience at the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House as “completely amazing.” Since the Stone Families first night at our House in 2009, they have stayed with us for more than 200 nights.
“To us, it’s a second home,” Katrina said.
In utero, Katelyn was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She was delivered at 37 weeks and was immediately transferred from Macon Hospital to Children’s at Egleston in Atlanta. At only 4lbs 13 oz. and 7 days old, she had her first stage of heart surgery, the Norwood procedure. During this time, the Stones found refuge at our House near Egleston during Katelyn’s difficult recovery.
Katelyn’s treatment in Atlanta required them to be 4 hours away from their home in Adel, GA. Time Katrina and her husband, Leonard, spent away from their other daughter was difficult. But when Katelyn’s older sister Chloe was able to join them at the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House, their family felt complete.
“Chloe loved it at the Ronald McDonald House,” Katrina said. “She loved the playroom and spending time with the volunteers doing arts and crafts. She didn’t feel like she was being left out during Katelyn’s medical journey.”
By the time Katelyn was three years old, she had 5 open-heart surgeries. Her 6th surgery came after a 116 day wait for a new heart.
At the time of Katelyn’s heart transplant, Katrina had just had her third child, a son name Rece. As soon as Katelyn was transplanted, the Stone Family was able to utilize our transplant wing at our House near Egleston for 2 weeks after Katelyn was released. It was important that they were together as a family and Chloe was able to bring joy and comfort to her little sister as Katelyn adjusted to her new heart.
Now as a bright and smiling 8 year old, Katelyn and her family still have to watch for rejections or complications with her heart. It will be a life journey for her, but throughout the road ahead, they will have comfort in knowing that our House will always be a second home to them.
On Katelyn’s 7th birthday they had to be in Atlanta for an appointment. Katrina warned Katelyn that they may not be able to have a significant celebration that night, but her birthday became extra special when our House Manager, Ms. Linda, pulled a special cake out of the freezer just for her!
Ms. Linda propped Katelyn up on the counter to help her decorate it and everyone sang her “Happy Birthday” that night at dinner. For Katrina and Katelyn- that moment was priceless and one they’ll never forget.
“Having the Ronald McDonald House means that there is no stress for Katelyn. It’s a special place to us and there is no anxiety because she knows she’s going to go somewhere that’s going to be fun and like home to her,” Katrina said.