Mia’s Story

A baby girl relaxes in her crib

“You never know what it’s like until you’re walking in someone else’s shoes,” Rafaela Salvador says. “The Ronald McDonald House helps so much.”

When Rafaela was between four and five months pregnant, her medical team couldn’t see Mia’s heart during ultrasound scans. The couple visited UAB Women & Infants Center for a second opinion and that’s when the medical team determined a hernia had developed and was pushing on Mia’s organs, and she had a hole in her heart.

At that point, their medical team at UAB prepared the family for a 5-6 week stay in Birmingham following Mia’s birth.

“We had never heard of the Ronald McDonald House until then but when they told us Mia would have to be in the hospital, that’s when they said, ‘And you’ll stay at the Ronald McDonald House,’ Rafaela remembers.

The Salvador family has been at RMHCA for more than 100 days. Like many of our current guest families, they expect to be here for weeks.

“We thank you for all the help, not just for us but all the families here,” Anselmo says.

“Without your help, none of us could stay so close to our babies,” Rafaela adds.

A woman, young girl and man sit together on a bench

Mia has a long road ahead of her but with your generous gift of volunteering or donations, she’ll have her parents with her the whole way.

Big sister Abby Sofia is also able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. Her parents take shifts at the hospital with Mia while one stays with Abby Sofia.

“We’ve gone to McWane, the zoo and the park nearby,” Anselmo says. “It helps. We know Sofia gets bored and she wants to see the baby so it helps keep her busy.”

Being at the Ronald McDonald House together, the family can take part in volunteer-provided meals, movie nights, and other activities they wouldn’t have access to at a hotel.

“It’s also great to cook our own food,” Rafaela says. “The meals the volunteer bring are great but it’s not the same as your own cooking.”

Staff and other guest families know when Anselmo or Rafaela are cooking when the family kitchen fills will delicious scents! Giving them access to cook nourishing meals for themselves and Sofia is so rewarding.

At the end of the day, they feel grateful.

“Without you, being close to Mia would not be possible. You are doing a great job and have treated us just like family,” Anselmo says.