The Jolls Family

Aiyana




Ronald McDonald House

Aiyana’s Close Call

September 2013

By Gene Davis

It’s every parent’s nightmare. The sound of a loud crash coming from nearby, and then the sound of a child crying out in fear and pain.

Kris Jolls’ heart sank into his stomach as he raced to the side of Aiyana, his 18-month-old daughter, who had managed to pull a large table on top of her while trying to climb onto it. Aiyana’s four-year-old sister Maya trailed behind Kris and watched as he threw the table off of his baby and comforted her.

Baby Aiyana spent almost a month in the hospital after her injury
Baby Aiyana spent almost a month in the hospital after her injury
Aiyana didn’t have any obvious injuries, but Kris rushed her to the emergency room at Maui Memorial Hospital, where they met mom Jenette, who had been at work when she got the news.

After several hours of testing, doctors decided to send Aiyana home. “They did x-rays, blood work and ultrasound but nothing came up,” says Kris. “The doctors told us to watch her overnight, and to bring her back immediately if anything changed.”

“We didn’t sleep all night,” recalls Kris. “Aiyana still wasn’t herself and she couldn’t keep anything down.”

Aiyana Jolls
Aiyana Jolls
The next day, doctors ordered a CT scan. It was getting scarier by the minute for Kris and Jenette as they waited for Aiyana’s turn on the imaging machine. When the results were finally in, they found that the little girl had a laceration in the small intestine, a duodenal perforation.

The next day, doctors ordered a CT scan. It was getting scarier by the minute for Kris and Jenette as they waited for Aiyana’s turn on the imaging machine. When the results were finally in, they found that the little girl had a laceration in the small intestine, a duodenal perforation.

Meanwhile, overnight on Oahu, the surgery to repair Aiyana’s damaged duodenum had been successful, much to the relief of Jenette, who had paced the floor alone, waiting for word on what was happening. “The surgeon was so serious and I was terrified that we would lose Aiyana,” she remembers. “After about two hours, the surgeon came out with a big smile on his face, and I said ‘Oh my God, thank you!’”

Aiyana was in the NICU for five days, in the hospital for three weeks, then another few days at the Ronald McDonald House with her family before they were finally able to return home to Maui.

Like so many families coming suddenly to Oahu with an ill or injured child, Kris and Jenette had no plan. “I knew we had to be there for our baby but I had no idea where we would stay,” recalls Kris. As Jenette puts it, “There was so much uncertainty and we didn’t know how long we would be here. No clue. Not enough clothes. We had no money saved up. Nowhere to turn.”

Jolls Family
Jolls Family
Jenette shared with Kris a Ronald McDonald House flyer that she had been given by a social worker at the hospital and Kris made an instant decision. “I said ‘here we come.’ It was a leap of faith, and it turned out to be a blessing from the day we first walked in the door.”

Kris remembers vividly being overwhelmed their first week at the Ronald McDonald House. “It wasn’t just meeting and talking with the other families and learning their stories, but it was also seeing so many people coming through the door willing to give their time, from the kids to the elders, it was awe-inspiring. This place has changed our lives. It’s changed our outlook on community. It’s changed our outlook on helping others too. It really showed us what face-to-face type donations do for people. Now I’m excited to go back and see what I can do on Maui to help someone.”

“I’m hoping our oldest daughter can remember this experience as well. She saw the sign saying “The House That Love Built” and wasn’t sure what it meant, so I told her that the volunteers that she sees working around the House are here strictly from their hearts. They’re not getting paid, not getting prizes, or awards, love is the reason they do it.

Jenette agrees that the experience has been life-changing. “It’s given us a different perspective and made us realize that we take a lot for granted. Our health, family, friends… we take way too much for granted.”

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