While her granddaughter was on life support awaiting a heart transplant, Lauren Anello was living in the hospital out of her suitcase. “It’s so hard to sleep in an ICU when there is no bed to sleep on,” she says. “I slept in a reclining chair.”
Lauren’s granddaughter was born with a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where heart muscle develops abnormally thick, making it harder to pump blood throughout her body. Thanks to an incredibly selfless donor, she received her precious gift of life in 2011.
Lauren and her granddaughter were able to stay at the Family House after the transplant surgery, and they come back at least once a year for follow-up appointments. “There were so many times I’d come back from the hospital unable to see straight,” Lauren explains. “To have a place to lay your head at night with a clean shower is absolutely amazing.”
If the Anello family didn’t have the Family House, they’d have to drive two and a half hours each way from their home in rural, northern New Jersey. “I was terrified of having to find a place to live in Philadelphia. It isn’t something we can afford. But at the Family House, the staff made it not scary. They welcomed us with open arms.”
During her stay at the Family House, Lauren also made a very close knit group of friends going through the transplant journey—and they still keep in touch years later.
“I don’t know any other organization like the Family House. All of my basic necessities are met here. It is a welcoming, safe, and secure place to go. I can talk to a social worker, get a ride to the hospital, and relax in the garden outside. My stay at the Family House gets better each time.”
As a member of the Welcome Home Club, you can help people like Lauren and her granddaughter who are undergoing the often stressful transplant journey. A small commitment from you, whether its $10, $21, or $100 a month, will go a long way to provide meals, use of a full-service kitchen, transportation, and a place to sleep for transplant families traveling a long way to receive life-saving care.
Most importantly, when you join the Welcome Home Club, you’ll give a family one less thing to worry about, allowing them to focus on what’s most important—caring for themselves and their loved ones.