MAHONING TOWNSHIP--While many of us spent Christmas Day at home with our families, not everyone was that lucky. Some people spent the holiday in the hospital, while their family members came to visit.
Gabriella Luna and her baby boy Damian look like any other smiling mother and son, except if you look closely you can see a tube coming from Damian's stomach. Damian has Short Bowel Syndrome. When he was born on September 9th, his intestines were outside his body. His condition requires round the clock care. Luna has been by her son's side since day one. Since she lives in York County, that's not easy. That's where the Ronald McDonald house near Danville comes in.
"They have food all the time. And shower, I can wash my clothes, they provide laundry detergent. Everything I need basically. I haven't been home one day," Luna said.
The Ronald McDonald house is located right across the street from Geisinger Medical Center. That gives Luna peace of mind. She can focus all of her energy on Damian instead of on herself.
"I can just literally walk across the street and he's there. You can pay attention to Damian. Yeah. Focus all on him," Luna said.
The Ronald McDonald house is celebrating its 35th year in the Danville area. It provides temporary housing to families of sick children for little to no charge. Sometimes there is a wait list, and sometimes there are rooms available. Ann Blugis is the Director of Communications.
"We can have folks with us for simply a day visit and then we have folks that are with us for months on end," Blugis said.
The house can accommodate around 56 people in its 19 rooms. And according to Blugis, the house is usually filled to capacity.
"We also have a room upstairs which is sort-of like a family room, a game room. That can be converted in an emergency situation if we know that a room will be open the next day," Blugis said.
Luna has been at the Ronald McDonald house for more than 100 days. That includes Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"They make it feel okay. For Halloween they gave us goodie bags. For thanksgiving there was a huge dinner so my whole family came here actually," Luna said.
The next step for the family from York County is to soon go to a hospital in Boston, which specializes in Damian's condition. Luna says she will stay at a Ronald McDonald house there.