Ronald McDonald House
The Quenga Family
“You want your child to live like every other child, you never expect them to be born with special conditions.”
Savannah Quenga and her husband Andrew never imagined their son Elijah would need heart surgery two weeks after being born. Elijah was diagnosed with Di George Syndrome, which is a chromosomal disorder resulting in poor development of several body systems. He also has autism, which has added another dimension to his care.
“I was a first-time mother at that time, only 19 years-old. It was extremely tough the first months and years of his life. Elijah was in-and-out of the hospital due to his immune deficiency.”
To add to their worries, there were no pediatric cardiologist specialists who worked on the island, so her son had to be flown to California where he received heart surgery.
“I remember crying and holding my family. Every surgery has risks, especially that one because doctors had to stop my son’s heart. We had a hard time letting him go. It brings on so much anxiety.” Elijah spent more than nine hours in surgery. Seconds felt like minutes and minutes felt like hours. Savannah recalls that day being the longest of her life.
Most recently, Elijah broke his elbow and was flown to Oahu for surgery. Shortly after he arrived, he also experienced a seizure that doctors are now monitoring. Despite all of the uncertainties and challenges, his mom says how thankful she is for the family services and support they have received. “I felt alone when we came here, but speaking to the other families has given me hope,” says Savannah. “I have no idea what we would have done without the Ronald McDonald House. It’s truly a home-away-from-home filled with people who are compassionate and care.”
The Quenga family have now stayed in three Ronald McDonald Houses throughout Elijah’s journey. The House has been there for them every step of the way. “I never imagined living this life. I wouldn’t have it any other way. All of the hard work is well worth it. We have had our ups and downs, but my son is as healthy as he can be.”