Family Spotlight: Thankful to be Home

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This year, Dwayne and Christie Watznauer are most thankful for the health of their infant twin girls, Skye and Magnolia. They are especially grateful for the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House being their home and safe haven until the girls were cleared to go home after 202 nights.

“It was our home for almost eight months,” Dwayne says. “The House let us focus on our situation and helping the girls. We didn’t have to worry about our food or where to lay our heads. It offered us so much and expected nothing from us.”

Magnolia and Skye are a rare set of identical monamniotic twins. “They shared everything in the womb and were confined to the same sack,” says mom, Christie. This condition meant bedrest for Christie and put the twins at risk for strangulation by cord entanglement and other complications.

The girls were born at 34 weeks in January after having been diagnosed with different heart conditions, which led to their treatment at Children’s at Egleston.

Magnolia has tretalogy of fallot, a rare combination of four heart defects that causes poor blood circulation throughout her body. “The smallest tasks wear Magnolia out pretty easily,” Christie says.  “She’s had three open heart surgeries and many procedures. She’s had blood clots, heart shunts, feeding tubes, etc.”

Skye has transposition of the great arteries, which are in backward, making her heart anatomy much different from a normal baby’s heart. “She’s had one 12-hour open heart surgery in which we almost lost her,” Christie says. “Her lungs collapsed. She’s had infections and feeding tubes. She’s suffered fluid build-up and at times been swollen and in unrecognizable states.”

Magnolia needs two more surgeries and Skye needs one more.

Christie says the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House was more than a home. “It kept the girls’ away from the dangers of the world and close to the hospital. There is no way we could have done it without the House being a safe environment for Skye and Magnolia,” Christie says. “We would have worried about them being exposed to germs in a hotel since they have such fragile immune systems.”

“They’ve been beating the odds since before birth,” Christie says. “At 16 weeks gestational age, they had a 40 percent survival rate. They faced so many surgeries, operations and pain so early, but the Ronald McDonald House kept us positive through the difficulties and above all else — provided a wonderful place to stay, meals and peace. We didn’t worry about food or how we would afford hotel rooms. It’s been a blessing.”

Dwayne, Christie and the girls returned home in August. “We can’t wait to share Thanksgiving with the girls and our family, since this will be our first major holiday at home! Magnolia and Skye are beginning to try new foods and it is bound to be an interesting day,” Christie says.

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