The Phelps Family

Mikai was born with double inlet left ventricle which affects the valves and chambers of the heart. This means he only has one working pumping chamber in his heart, essentially leaving him with half of a heart requiring long surgeries for a newborn. Mike and Ashley Phelps thought long and hard about which hospital would be best for their son. The couple from Sioux City, Iowa decided that the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital would provide the best care for Mikai. They packed up their bags and checked into an Airbnb close to the hospital. They soon learned about the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City and moved in, leaving their Airbnb-and the associated cost-behind. Mike remembers feeling relieved to find a place that was cost-free, “Surgeries are expensive on their own. Imagine adding weeks of Airbnb bills to that as well. The Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City became our financial safety net.”

For the Phelps, the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City became a place to escape from hard moments in the hospital. They were able to take turns getting sleep, making sure one of them stayed next to Mikai in his hospital room. The surgeries were stressful and difficult for the couple, so a quiet night of sleep was important. They felt lucky to have hot meals and delicious pantry items at the House, sharing that Hospital food is not always the tastiest option and is often expensive. Mike explained what the House meant to him, “The House has helped us so much financially. Not only that, but it provided us with a support group during a really hard time. The staff and volunteers were kind and always there for us. You don’t always know how long you will need to be away from your home, so having the House gave us a sense of normalcy. It became our home away from home.”

At 17 months old, Mikai is doing better than even his doctors expected. He is full of energy and growing like a weed. The Phelps used Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week to give back, bringing boxes of Wishlist items to the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City. Mike shared, “The House helped us so much, we wanted to give back in honor of Mikai. He is doing beyond amazing, and we are so excited to celebrate his successes.”

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