Invercargill mum of ten, Carla Dick says staying with RMHC® New Zealand has been an incredible gift for her family. She and her husband Grant knew before their youngest son Nathanael was born that he would need a kidney transplant one day. This day came sooner than expected when Nathanael experienced kidney failure at the tender age of nine.

Carla had 48 hours to make sure the rest of her family were taken care of before she and Nathanael flew to Auckland’s National Children’s Hospital for pre-transplant procedures. Jesse, her oldest son, had been identified as the best donor match for Nathanael and would fly up shortly after.

They’d been told they could stay at Ronald McDonald House while Nathanael received treatment.  Carla says they were grateful they wouldn’t have to arrange their own accommodation in Auckland.

Upon arriving at the House, they were blown away by just how much was prepared for them. “In the shared kitchen there were pantries full of all the basics, and in our room there were toothbrushes, bath gels, soaps and towels. They’d truly thought of everything,” remembers Carla.

Initially, Carla worried about where Jesse would stay when he came up for the transplant, as she wanted to be there to look after both her sons when they came out of surgery. She was relieved to find out that he, along with any other family members that visited, could stay at the House. “Even though Jesse is 24, I am still mum and want to look after him. Being able to have him at the House meant I was able to do that.”

Grant and their other children flew up when they could and Carla says having them there was a tremendous support to both her and Nathanael. “Coming from such a big family, you really feel it when it is just the two of you. It was awesome that Grant and the kids could stay at the House too. It really helped us have that sense of normality.”

Carla and Nathanael stayed three months while he prepared for, underwent and recovered from the transplant. During this time, the House became Nathanael’s safe place. Things like the onsite school, playing with other children staying at the House and family trips to the zoo kept his mind off the hospital and his treatments.

With the practical things taken care of, Carla found she was able to keep a clear head to focus on Nathanael’s care. “I felt so cared for at the House. It was easy for me to get to and from the hospital, easy to get food, easy for me to entertain Nathanael, I can’t imagine how people could do it without this kind of support from Ronald McDonald House.”

The family is now all back home in Invercargill and both Nathanael and Jesse have recovered well from the transplant. Carla has chosen to help other families staying at Ronald McDonald House by signing their family up to take on RMHC New Zealand’s House to House challenge in March. “The House has been a real gift and we want to pay it forward. This will be a great way to spend family time together, keep fit and raise money and awareness for our ‘home-away-from-home’.”

For more information on House to House visit here: www.housetohouse.org.nz

More on the Dick family:

To celebrate Mother’s Day, our friends at ASB helped us surprise Carla by flying up her whole family from Invercargill, including her husband Grant and all 10 of their children! Check out the video below to see how it all happened.