Avery Ruiz’s Family

18-month-old Avery was born with a large congenital birthmark on her scalp and side of her face. When she was just three months old, she had an MRI to determine a treatment plan that was best for her. After searching for doctors, the Ruiz family were referred to Dr. Bauer at UChicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital. The family made their first trip to Chicago – over 1,100 miles from home – in September 2022 to begin Avery’s treatments.

Avery had tissue expanders placed on her scalp and forehead to be filled weekly at home for 12 weeks before they could be removed. The expanders help Avery develop more skin in the area, and stretch the skin around the area, from which the birthmark will be removed.

While Avery recovered from the placements before they could return home, her family – mom, grandma and sister – stayed just steps away from the hospital at Ronald McDonald House.

“Everyone at Ronald McDonald House was so kind and polite,” Angela, Avery’s mom, said. “They were so warm and welcoming to all of us.”

Ronald McDonald House became the Ruiz family’s home away from home during their two-week stay.

“We had all the amenities of home at our fingertips,” Angela noted. “Everyone at Ronald McDonald House truly knows how to make things easier during a difficult time. We really felt like we were surrounded by love.”

The Ruiz family returned home to Maine in early October, but Avery’s journey didn’t end there. She needed to come back to Chicago in December to have the expanders and birthmark removed. Thankfully, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana was with them every step of the way.

“Ronald McDonald House allowed us to focus on our daughter’s surgery and not worry about the financial aspect of traveling back and forth,” Angela said. “They even provided us with a few toys to take home and wrap for the holidays for our daughters since they knew getting out to shop would be a difficult task. It was so special – they really think of everything.”

Today, Avery is doing great. The Ruiz family – mom, dad, grandma, and sister – plan to return to Chicago this summer for another round of tissue expanders and will return for another surgery this fall to have the expanders removed.

“Without Ronald McDonald House, I don’t know if we could make these trips to Chicago,” Angela said. “Families should never have to choose between care for their child and paying bills. Ronald McDonald House has alleviated us from all that stress.”