Ronald McDonald House
By RMHC–HI Staff
We shine the volunteer spotlight on an extraordinary young gentleman who has gone through more trials and tribulations in his life than most of us will ever go through. Jarek Barnett is a Ronald McDonald House Family Room Volunteer, but back in 2006–7 he was a patient right there at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children (KMCWC). Near the beginning of his senior year at Mililani High School, Jarek suffered a stroke and spent a month in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the hospital.
While he was in the PICU, and during the additional seven months Jarek spent in the hospital, his father Louis was able to utilize the Family Room. “I could see that the Family Room was a convenient place for my father because it relieved some of the stress for him and he wasn’t that far from me if I needed him,” explains Jarek.
Jarek’s health became very fragile in February 2007, and the family learned that he needed to go to UCLA Medical Center in California to receive a heart transplant immediately. According to tests results he only had weeks left to live. When Jarek and his father arrived, doctors almost immediately found a match for him and within 22 hours the transplant was completed.
At this point wheelchair bound, Jarek returned to Mililani High School in May 2007 and had the opportunity to walk with his fellow classmates for graduation (“Roll with them,” he jokes). He enrolled at Leeward Community College and studied liberal arts, then transferred to Honolulu Community College in spring 2011 where he is pursuing an Associate’s degree in Human Services.
But incredibly there is more. This past summer near Ala Moana Boulevard, a drunk driver smashed into Jarek, crushed his wheel chair and sent Jarek to spend several days in Queen’s Hospital with a broken nose, internal head bleeding, fractured cheekbones, and facial scrapes from the pavement.
But having had a stroke, a heart transplant, and being the victim of a hit and run accident hasn’t deterred Jarek from becoming a positive force in the world. “I volunteer at the Family Room because I want to help others the way my father was helped here,” he says. “It feels so good to go home knowing that I was able to help someone just by talking to them and sometimes sharing my story of my challenges, if they ask.”
We applaud Jarek’s sprit and determination and we are proud to have Jarek as part of the RMHC–HI Ohana. §