The Sullivan Family
At 23 weeks pregnant with twins, Amanda Sullivan woke up not feeling well and instantly knew something wasn’t right. As a precaution, Amanda consulted her physician at Cape Fear Valley Hospital in Fayetteville, NC. She was shocked to learn she was already in labor. The next 24 hours were a whirlwind, and the family found themselves in Chapel Hill at UNC Children’s Hospital with two premature babies, Leah and Carter, receiving treatment in the NICU. “It all happened so fast, I had no idea I was already in labor when I went to Cape Fear Valley Hospital,” said Amanda.
Leah and Carter were born at 1 pound 3 ounces and 1 pound 5 ounces, respectively. Leah underwent surgery for NEC, necrotizing enterocolitis, a serious gastrointestinal issue that mostly affects premature babies. The condition inflames intestinal tissue, causing it to necrotize. Leah had to have 33 centimeters of her bowel removed during the procedure. Carter experienced trouble breathing and eventually had a lung collapse. Both babies were on a ventilator for an extended period.
Knowing they would be spending more time than expected in Chapel Hill, Amanda and her husband, Cory, were relieved to learn about Ronald McDonald House and what it could offer them during this difficult time. Amanda reminisced about her first time walking through the doors at RMHCH: “I cried. We were so grateful for the House and how it allowed us to be so close to our babies. It truly is an incredible place.” Amanda also spoke about how comforting it was to be around other families staying at the House who were going through similar experiences. “The House was truly a home away from home. We met other families in similar situations who we are still friends with 9 years later. It’s so helpful to be able to talk with other families who are walking in the same shoes as you.”
The Sullivans stayed at RMHCH for nearly 5 months, checking out on November 23, one month after Amanda’s original due date. In the 9 years since the family stayed at RMHCH, both Leah and Carter have overcome the issues they experienced at birth. Carter developed asthma, but it is controlled and doesn’t hold him back from his everyday life. The twins just finished 2nd grade – Leah loves American Girl, and Carter, who loves to read, recently finished 5th in his school spelling bee. Both are doing very well and according to mom are “typical, happy 9-year-olds.” The Sullivans are a military family who have lived in 7 different cities throughout their journey, currently residing in Prince William County, Virginia. No matter where they are located, the family always contacts the closest Ronald McDonald House about volunteering and donating supplies. “We want to give back to families in need, to help them in difficult times, just like the Ronald McDonald House in Chapel Hill did for us.”