The Hutcheson Family

It was a Thursday when Davenport couple Jenny and Keenan Hutcheson welcomed their third child into the world, eight weeks ahead of schedule. Baby Remi was quickly whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at University of Iowa Hospital, her fragile form tangled in a web of tubes and wires. Her early arrival was not something they had anticipated, but was necessary due to vasa previa, a rare pregnancy complication. After falling into an exhausted sleep, the new parents were awakened on Friday morning by doctors concerned about Remi’s condition. “We were woken up and told she wasn’t doing well at all, that she was not acting like a baby born at 32 weeks,” remembers dad Keenan.

At just one day old, Remi’s struggles escalated following a diagnosis of Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), a congenital heart defect that could lead to heart failure if left untreated. The road ahead was paved with uncertainty and the close-knit family braced themselves for a lengthy stay in the NICU.  Keenan and Jenny couldn’t imagine spending weeks apart from their older children in the Quad Cities or leaving their newest addition in the Iowa City NICU. Yet amidst the chaos, there was a beacon of light – Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Iowa & Western Illinois (RMHC-EIWI).

“The impact is honestly immeasurable, if it wasn’t for the housing [at Ronald McDonald House] I’m not sure what we would have done.  With Jenny being off work early with complications and the extra cost associated with having a baby in the NICU, it’s huge,” says Keenan. The Ronald McDonald House became a lifeline as they navigated the obstacles and milestones of each day in the NICU. Their suite provided a haven where they could gather as a family on weekends, listening to the laughter of their boys as they played on the backyard playground and raiding the kitchen for snacks. Complimentary passes to the local pool offered moments of normalcy, while the savings from parking eased the financial burden of life split between hospital and home. Keenan and Jenny were delighted to find out that RMHC-EIWI provides toys for patients and their siblings, gives everyone a special blanket on the bed when they arrive, and provides dinners donated by individuals, service groups, and local restaurants.

As Remi fought for her life, RMHC became an anchor, offering more than just shelter and sustenance. It offered hope, a lifeline woven from the kindness of strangers and the resilience of the human spirit. Their boys found joy in the simple pleasures- climbing on the playground, eating snacks, playing with new toys, and soaking up the comfort of their parents during a scary and confusing time. “We would joke and tell people I was headed to our ‘vacation home’ on the weekends,” quips Keenan. “It became our home away from home for not only Jenny, but for our family on the weekends. [RMHC-EIWI] allowed her to be able to spend time with boys as well as be close by for Remi.”

With Remi growing stronger by the day, the Hutcheson’s prepared to return to their Davenport home after 5 long weeks. “We know so much about RMHC now. As someone who never has the need all you know is that ‘RHMC helps families,’ but the extent to which they do is unknown until you need them.” Initially wanting to stay with friends rather than test unfamiliar waters, their youngest son’s tears as they bid farewell spoke volumes. What began as a journey fraught with fear ended in triumph, a testament to the power of love and community.



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