Despite being only four-years-old, little Jamarliah has already called Ronald McDonald House home since 2019, when she first arrived at the hospital from her home in Rockhampton to have scans on her right leg.
“She has a shortened right femur,” says her mum Vicisha. “There’s no medical name or condition for it, it’s just shorter than her left leg and we’ve been coming down to Brisbane since 2019 to have regular check-ups on it and get to a point where an operation to lengthen the leg was an option.”
In February 2020, Jamarliah was considered old enough by doctors to have the life-changing operation. “It meant her leg had to be broken and then the bones pinned,” reveals Vicisha. “We have to turn the pins every day to lengthen the femur. We’re aiming for 5cm and we’re slowly but surely getting there.”
The journey to normality for Jamarliah has placed a heavy burden on her parents: and without the assistance of Ronald McDonald House, the family — including her father Troy and younger brother Malcolm — would have had to endure lengthy separations during her weekly visits to the hospital.
“At first we were down here three days a week, which would include a lot of travelling between Brisbane and Rockhampton,” says Vicisha. “It just wasn’t practical. And when we first started coming down, Malcolm had only just been born, so that was an extra pressure. We’d travel for her appointment, stay the day and then leave straight away. It was difficult.”
A place at Ronald McDonald House made life so much easier: allowing Troy to work remotely from Brisbane and the family to be together and enjoy life in the city while being close to the hospital and Jamarliah’s doctors.
“The staff here, everyone here is really, lovely, they’re really nice,” says Vicisha. They cater to all your needs and with the space we have, the kitchen, the bedrooms, it feels like home and we can live a normal life.”
And the support of RMHC has also reduced the family’s financial worries as they contemplated the long-term treatment options for little Jamarliah.
“Troy would have had to try and access his superannuation for us to afford to stay here like we have,” comments Vicisha. “So having Ronald McDonald House and him being able to be able to work down here is fantastic. It means we can all be together. It would have been very stressful otherwise.”
With Jamarliah now recuperating after her operation the family spend their weekends together enjoying Brisbane and local attractions including the lookout at Mount Gravatt: while looking forward to going home.
“She has another operation soon to remove the pins,” says Vicisha. “Then hopefully we don’t have to do anything until she’s 12 when she has to have the same operation again: so we can all go home.”
And they will return home knowing that when the time comes again, we’ll be there for them.