Ronald McDonald House

Worth the Long Journey

By Cora Saligumba, Eleele, Kauai

I can’t wait to explain to my son Kevin how so many people did so much to help him survive after he was born prematurely. Here’s how it happened. On March 6, 2001, I went to my ultrascan appointment at Kauai’s Wilcox Hospital. The doctors examined me and didn’t have good news. My water bag had ruptured. My obstetrician explained to my husband, Frankie, and me that the chances of our baby surviving were slim if we decided to deliver then. Normally, babies with less than 24 weeks gestation won’t survive, and if they do, there are a lot of additional problems.

Kevin Saligumba, one week old
Kevin Saligumba, one week old
Our two options were to abort our baby right then or to be Medevac’d to Kapiolani Women’s & Children’s Medical Center and be restricted to bed for two weeks so that our baby would have a better chance of surviving. As soon as the doctor left the room to give us some time to discuss things, we cried and cried. But the decision wasn’t hard. It had taken us 7 years to have a child and we weren’t about to lose our baby.  The doctor came back and we told him that we decided to take the chance and fly to Oahu. Within hours, I was flown to Oahu, and immediately restricted to bed. A bedside monitor indicated that I was having continual contractions. They continued for three days and got worse and worse. When the doctor came and examined me, she found that my baby was ready to be born - and that it was breach. They rushed me to the operating room and did a caesarean section delivery. At 12:34 a.m. on Saturday March 10, 2001, I gave birth to a baby boy, our son, and we named him Kevin Andrew. He was 1 pound 8 ounces, and 12 1/2 inches long. I had carried him for barely 24 weeks, and his condition was very fragile.

Before long, I was well enough to leave the hospital, but Kevin faced a long period of inpatient care, and we, of course, needed to be with him. But where would we stay, and how would we function away from home, Luckily, there is a Ronald McDonald House. With a social worker’s referral, on March 21 of that year we moved into Ronald McDonald House, and I resided there for more than two years.

Saligumba family
Keving and mother
It was a waiting game—waiting for Kevin to grow and get better. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. By May 2002, Kevin was doing well enough for us to begin planning to return with him to Kauai. We took CPR classes, learned how to work the monitor and oxygen and we were scheduled to go home in late May. However, things didn’t go as planned. Instead, what followed was a frustrating series of surgeries and complications. It is hard to see your child suffering, but his strong will and his smile gave us strength. Slowly but surely, Kevin’s condition improved and we began to wean him from the respirator. Finally, in May 2003, we were able to bring Kevin home to Kauai and he is so happy. While he still faces some medical issues, he is growing and learning so fast!

There are so many people to thank that helped us along the way. For more than two years, Ronald McDonald House was my second home. Even though I spent most of my time at the hospital, I did manage to meet other families from different places like Guam, Saipan, Hilo, Maui, and even others from my home island, Kauai. Every family has their own story to tell of hospitals, uncertainties and prayers.

To the caring staff at Ronald McDonald House: you have touched us deeply and have supported us in ways that allowed us to concentrate on helping Kevin—and that has been so important. To the other Ronald McDonald House families: continue to have the courage to battle for your keiki. You don’t have far to look for understanding and support.

Someday, I will tell Kevin of his life’s first adventure and how so many people, organizations and agencies did so much for him and his family at a time when help was needed so much. §

More RMHC–HI Stories: