Brayden’s Journey

Three-year-old Brayden is always excited to go to the kitchen at the Ronald McDonald House. His mom, Crystal, says it’s one of his favorite places because he loves the snack bags.

Since November of 2021, the Kires family has been calling the Ronald McDonald House their “home-away-from-home.” It was then when Brayden received a multi-organ transplant.

During Crystal’s pregnancy, she and her husband, Mathew, were told that their son had gastroschisis, a condition where the intestines are on the outside of the body.

“We thought that he would have a noninvasive procedure to fix the condition and then he would be fine,” said Crystal.

But what physicians discovered at birth was that his intestines were not viable and Brayden needed emergency surgery to remove the affected bowel. He remained in the neonatal intensive care unit for the next two months.

Hoping to prevent the need for a transplant, Brayden had another surgery to lengthen the existing bowel. But in May of 2021, he was placed on the transplant list to receive a bowel, liver and pancreas. His liver was affected by the TPN he received for nutrition. His transplant took place six months later in Pittsburgh, five hours from home.

Brayden is now in recovery. He is always on the move pushing his lawn mower or shopping cart around the House and saying hello to everyone, especially Ronald who sits on the bench in front of the Ronald McDonald House. He also enjoys those snacks he gets each time he goes to the kitchen.

“He feels fantastic, is super energetic and does not look so sick anymore,” said Crystal. “Living life before the transplant was very difficult for him.”

Not knowing when it will be medically safe to go home, Brayden and his parents remain close to his care by staying at the Ronald McDonald House. They were told in their initial transplant plan that it could be six months to a year.

“I don’t know what we would do without the Ronald McDonald House,” said Crystal. “Families are really struggling, and this kind of help is absolutely amazing.”