Emily Haworth remembers seeing a sonogram of her son Nolan, “My husband Aaron and I gave him the nickname Little Lion because it looked like he had a mane.” After Nolan was born, doctors diagnosed him with choroid plexus papilloma which leads to increased fluid in the brain, causing increased pressure in the head. Doctors also discovered Nolan had a golf ball sized tumor in the third ventricle of his brain. “On the day of the surgery, doctors had concerns about complications and didn’t know what was going to happen post-surgery” said Emily. “Once the surgery was successfully completed, we posted a picture of a lion on Facebook to announce the good news.” Over the next 14 months, Aaron and Emily Haworth would stay about 120 nights at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital during Nolan’s 12 hospitalizations.
During Nolan’s multiple hospital stays, Aaron and Emily tried to make life as normal as possible for their 5-year-old daughter Zoe and the Ronald McDonald Family Room in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital played a big part in making her feel at home. Aaron explains, “We have a family tradition of making a big breakfast on Saturday mornings, so I would bring in groceries and make a huge breakfast like we were at home. Zoe had home cooked meals and activities for her that didn’t center around her brother being sick. She was able to be a kid.”
Emily was thankful for having a place to go in the Ronald McDonald Family Room. It was more than just a place where she could reserve a room to take a nap or stay the night. For Emily, the Family Room was a place to find peace, “Some days you want to get away and be by yourself. Talking with medical professionals is exhausting at times and it wears you down. Aaron and I felt very overwhelmed by everything at times and Ronald McDonald House Charities was a life raft for us. It kept us afloat.”