Bee a Hero Day: Sammie and Emerson’s story

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – When Sammie Staley went in for a doctor’s appointment halfway through her pregnancy, she learned something about her unborn son.

“They found a mishap on our ultrasound – and we found out that the baby had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia,” said Staley. “We knew he had to be born down here in Rochester so he could be on [a machine that pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest] if he needed it.”

Sammie lives five hours away from Rochester in Plattsburgh, NY, but needed care at Golisano Children’s Hospital. Thankfully, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester was ready to take her in.  

“We now have high-risk OB moms in the house,” said RMHCR President & CEO JoAnne Ryan, “which means that a mom who might need to be close to care can come and stay with us prior to delivery.”

When Staley heard that she would only be four minutes down the road from her son in the hospital, and that she could be nearby without having to pay, it came as a huge relief.

“I couldn’t believe there was a place that was just like yeah, we’ll take you in, we’ll help you out when you need it the most,” said Staley. She checked into the house in February at no cost. Her son Emerson was born on March 20. She’s now been staying at the house for nearly seven months.

“For the first three months it was very touch and go, I guess is the best way to describe it,” said Staley. “He had a lot of complications after his repair surgery.”

Staley says without the Ronald McDonald house on Westmoreland Drive, she doesn’t know what she would’ve done. As for little Emerson, he’s getting stronger and closer to a happy, healthy childhood with his Mom at his side every step of the way. An outcome, Staley says, that likely wouldn’t be possible without the House.

“We’re over the dangerous part, I guess is a good way to say it,” said Staley. “We’re over the hard, hard part, and now it’s just trying to learn how to be a baby.”