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Their Saving Grace

When Maddie was 5-years-old, she fell off a slide in her backyard and hit her head. The fall ruptured an unknown pre-existing cerebral arterio-venous malformation (AVM), an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in the brain that usually forms before birth, causing her to basically have a stroke and lose consciousness.

She was in intensive care at the Mobile hospital for 28 days in a medically induced coma after several brain surgeries and six blood transfusions. One of Maddie’s parents was with her at all times during those 28 days. During this time, Mindy (Maddie’s mom) was pregnant with Trooper, who got his name for making it through this traumatic time in their lives. When Maddie finally woke up, the left side of her brain was damaged and she was unable to speak or use the entire right side of her body.

The West family came to Birmingham from Mobile so Maddie could receive the care she needed and they moved into the Ronald McDonald House for the first time. After physical, occupational and speech therapy, Maddie can walk and form short sentences. The doctor says her remarkable recovery was attributed to how young Maddie was when she ruptured her AVM.

Maddie is a happy little girl, always in good spirits and her family is always happy to put her first. The family traveled to Birmingham many times for different specialists at UAB and Children’s Hospital.

Gary says they are grateful for the Ronald McDonald House, “There is no way you could afford a hotel for a month, $100 a night adds up quickly especially when you add in eating out and hospital bills,” Gary said. “With 4 kids, even McDonald’s is $30 a trip. Being at the RMH you can grocery shop and store your food to save.”

Gary was forced to take  time off work as a mortgage broker and Mindy quit her job as a teacher. With the doctors bills piling up, not having to worry about a place to stay was their saving grace.

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