Ronald McDonald House
Two More To Love
By Gene Davis
Recently we had a chance to sit down and speak with Jamie and Una Pea on the day before they were checking out of the Judd Hillside Ronald McDonald House and going back to their home on Hawaii Island with their new twins, Emiko and Isamu.
Counting the two newest additions, Jamie and Una now have five children who are four-years-old or less. It sounds challenging, but the young couple is looking forward to the opportunity — and embracing it.
Their sudden emergency situation began on January 6, during Jamie’s regularly scheduled prenatal exam at her doctor’s office in Waimea. The doctor noticed that Emiko’s heart beats weren’t accelerating the way they were supposed to be. “So that’s when they realized that something could be wrong,” Jamie recalled. “They did an ultrasound and thought they saw fluid in her chest cavity and around her head.”
After consulting with doctors at Kapiolani Hospital, and after their extended family (which includes their church congregation) immediately stepped in to make sure the couple’s other three children would be looked after while they were gone, Jamie and Una left for Oahu.
“They removed Emiko first, and when they pulled her out she was 8 lbs. 1 oz. because she was so swollen,” said Jamie. “Then came Isamu at 5 lbs. 14 oz.”
Soon after birth, Emiko’s lungs collapsed and she stopped breathing. “They had to resuscitate her and immediately get the fluid out of her chest because it was the fluid that was causing her lungs to collapse,” Jamie related. “I was anesthetized, but I could hear everything that was going on. It scared me and I was crying on the table because I felt helpless. There were tons of people around Emiko, and I could hear someone yelling ‘compressions, compressions!’”
Jamie continued her story: “Emiko was hooked up to the ventilator for five weeks and they couldn’t give us any idea of when she was going home, or even if she was going home. The first couple of days they told us she was the most critical child in the NICU and that really tore us apart. She was hooked up to everything, with multiple chest tubes coming out. She was on a ton of medicine.”
“She came so far in the weeks after Isamu was discharged,” said the proud mother. “She just kept improving, and the doctors and nurses couldn’t believe how fast she got out of her situation. They started calling her our “miracle baby.”
When it had been unclear when they would be able to take Emiko home, the Peas brought their other three children to stay with them at the Judd Hillside Ronald McDonald House. “We stayed together as a family here and we would not have been able to do that without the help of the Ronald McDonald House,” Una said. “The first day we moved in here, it felt just right. We established friendships with other families staying here and with the staff.”
Jamie marveled at the normalcy her family felt when staying at the House. “Our kids call everyone “uncle” and “auntie” because they feel so comfortable here,” she said. “I really believe that we wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of this place. It’s really been our home and it has helped us not get ruined financially, which can really add to the pressure of everything else. It’s just such a good environment. It’s definitely become like our second home after being here for two months. I know we’re going to miss our family that we established here. We’re going to miss everybody.”