21 Feb The Dornfried Family
In February 2022, James and Caroline Dornfried learned through fetal ultrasounds that their unborn son Isaac had been diagnosed with complex and very rare congenital heart disease called Crisscross Heart05. Arrangements were made to travel from their home in Winston-Salem to Charlotte so Isaac could be delivered and receive medical treatment at Levine’s Children Hospital. James, Caroline, their 2 year old daughter, Pauline, and Caroline’s mother, Altagracia arrived at the RMHC of GC for an anticipated 3-4 week stay. However, as it turned out they became guests of RMHC for the next 8 weeks.
Isaac was born after 2 days of labor and a week later he underwent his first of multiple open heart surgeries. RMHC of GC became a home away from home as James and Caroline began a routine which resulted in at least one of them being present with Isaac at all times. James and Caroline would alternate spending the night with Isaac at the hospital while the other returned to the House to spend the night.
“RMHC of Greater Charlotte offered a safe and welcoming environment for our family for over 8 weeks. Regardless of how late we returned to the House, there was always a nourishing dinner waiting in the refrigerator. It was not unusual to see other parents up around 11-12 having dinner as they too had recently returned from the hospital. RMHC offered a temporary escape from the constant equipment alarms and foot traffic at the hospital. Whether sitting in the lounge area reading a book, watching TV, or playing pinball in the game room, RMHC offer a place to just unwind and relax from the stress of the day.” Caroline expressed.
Most importantly, RMHC of GC offered a comforting place for their daughter Pauline. Caroline’s mother, Altagracia was constantly with Pauline; however, Altagracia, had just joined their household months earlier having moved from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She only spoke Spanish and doesn’t drive a car. “This organization offered everything that was needed to keep Pauline healthy and happy, and there was no reason to venture away from it. The cupboard, kitchen, and laundry room allowed Altagracia to take care of basic needs and to keep busy and entertained. Pauline and Altagracia were frequently playing in the toy room, outside in the playground, or walking down the street to the Edgehill Neighborhood Park.” Pauline especially loved the visiting service dogs and miniature horse! “The staff was always so helpful, welcoming, and warm. RMHC of GC was more than just a place to lay our heads and fill our bellies, it offered a comforting and nurturing environment to live.”
Isaac was discharged from Levine’s Children’s Hospital on August 18th, however, his condition deteriorated and he was readmitted 3 weeks later on September 7th. Pauline and Altagracia stayed in Winston-Salem as Pauline had just begun preschool, and neighbors were helping with transportation. James and Caroline returned to Charlotte and was welcomed again at RMHC of Greater Charlotte. They went back to taking shifts spending the nights at the hospital. Isaac needed a second open heart surgery and afterward, Isaac returned home to Winston-Salem on October 19th. He is so strong and is doing great. He is scheduled to have his 3rd open heart surgery, bi-ventricular repair, this summer after his 1st birthday.
James and Caroline will be eternally grateful for the all the help and support they received in Charlotte by RMHC of GC and Levine Children’s Hospital, who provided outstanding life-saving medical treatment.