The Johnson Family

At Ronald McDonald House Charities Detroit, we rely on donors of all levels to make a home away from home for the families of critically ill and injured children. Sometimes, families who have stayed here become donors after their stay so they can help families who are in the same position they were just a few years before.

Symmone Johnson is one of those donors. Her story is below, in her own words.

“I’m from The Bahamas, I came to Detroit to attend Wayne State University in the fall of 2011. In 2013, shortly before Thanksgiving, I noticed that I constantly felt fatigued and was experiencing heart palpitations and shortness of breath. I didn’t think much of it and just figured it was because of school-related stress and I just needed rest.

One night at work, I was asked to push a cart filled with Styrofoam out to the dumpster, I experienced this sharp pain in my back and found it extremely difficult to push such a light cart about 100 feet, so I went to the hospital. The first doctor who saw me told me that I was probably suffering from a viral infection and sent me home, but the next day my symptoms got worse: severe back pain, fatigue; headache etc. I went back to the hospital for a second opinion and was told that I was anemic, my liver was failing and that I had to get a blood transfusion (always get a second or third opinion!). I was diagnosed with Evan’s Syndrome. Basically, it causes my antibodies to attack my red blood cells and platelets and my hemoglobin and platelet counts were dangerously low.

I called my parents and my father flew to Detroit and stayed one night at my friend’s house. My friend’s mother worked nights at DMC, so she was not able to transport my father to and from the hospital to visit me (this was before Uber).

Instead, she took him to the Ronald McDonald House. The staff was so gracious and helpful and he was able to stay there free of charge for the entire week that I was in the hospital. Having him there every day really made such a huge difference because all of my family lives in the Bahamas and I didn’t know that many people in Detroit. Without the Ronald McDonald House, my father wouldn’t have had a place to stay and I would have been all alone in the hospital.

My father was able to stay with me throughout the entire day until the end of visiting hours. He stayed with me through my three blood transfusions and assisted me throughout the day. That would have never been possible had he not been able to stay so close at the Ronald McDonald House. When we reminisce on that time in my life we always talk about how much we would like to give back to your organization for the priceless gift you all gave us during such a difficult time.

Please, never underestimate the positive and life changing impact that your organization has on the community and families like mine. You all took such a heavy burden off my me and my family and made my situation so much better than what it could have been. I’m still in school and put money aside every week to give in church and last week I felt led to donate to Ronald McDonald House Charities Detroit. I plan on donating more in the future as I am able, because anything I can contribute to a charity that helps families in similar situations as mine is worth it.”

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