Ronald McDonald House
A Summer to Remember
By Gene Davis
On July 24, as Joseph Keanini of Lahaina lay in the Kapiolani Hospital emergency room, overcome with stress and dehydration, his thoughts raced, as he watched the contents of his IV slowly drip into his arm. His three–year–old son Tyson was scheduled for surgery in just a few hours over at Pali Momi Hospital, and it would be then that he and his wife Donna would find out what was causing the bleeding behind Tyson’s right eye that was making him lose his sight. Doctors had warned that cancer was a possibility.
Joseph was also deeply concerned about his new grandson Logan who was upstairs in Kapiolani’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Joseph’s 20–year–old daughter Tia had given birth on July 18, and it was a complicated delivery. Logan had been immediately air lifted to Honolulu with grandma Donna by his side, as Tia was recovering from her caesarean section. When Logan arrived at Kapiolani Hospital, he was given only a 50–50 chance of survival.
So Joseph had a lot on his mind, with a son about to have important surgery, his grandson in intensive care and his daughter still recovering from her difficult delivery, here he was out of commission at the worst possible time.
But Joseph did recover enough to make it to his son’s surgery that morning, and he and Donna heaved a sigh of relief when doctors said the bleeding wasn’t from a tumor. However, there was the sobering news that Tyson may or may not regain some vision in that eye. “They couldn’t tell us exactly what happened to cause it,” Joseph shared. “It could have been when he was born, and it just took that long for it to be noticed, or he may have hurt it in a fall or collision or something. If that’s what happened, wenever caught it.”
Meanwhile, baby Logan was slowly improving and the odds had shifted in his favor. It would just take a little time. “Thank goodness for Ronald McDonald House,” said Joseph, who works at the front desk at the Maui Kaanapali Villas. “It made a really big difference to us, and staying there lowered our stress level a lot. It’s almost like being in your own home and the hospital is right down the street.”
Joseph, Donna and Tyson stayed at the Judd Hillside House while Tyson recovered from surgery, and while they waited for the doctors to clear him for travel. At the same time, Tia resided at the nearby Oahu Avenue House (which is reserved for parents of in–patient children) until Logan became strong enough to go home.
It took a couple more weeks, as Logan went from being hooked up to four machines, then down to one, and then none. In fact, Logan was cleared to go home on the very same day Joseph, Donna, and Tyson had to come back to Oahu for a follow up appointment, so they were all able to return to Maui together.
As they left the Ronald McDonald House, Joseph and his family looked around at their Oahu “home–away–from– home” one more time. “This has been a summer I will always remember,” he said. “I just want to thank everyone here and all the volunteers and everyone whose donations make this place possible.”