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When Grayson Dowling was born at 27 weeks, he was small enough to fit in the palm of his mom Miranda’s hand. A month earlier, Miranda had been evacuated from Penticton to Vancouver when her water broke at 22 weeks, and there were further complications. Doctors tried to prepare her for the worst, but she remembers knowing in her heart that her son was going to be okay.

At just 1 pound 3 ounces, Grayson would spend the next year in the hospital hooked up to a ventilator and other life-support systems, fighting to grow and survive. Miranda spent 14 months in Vancouver by his side and moved into  RMH BC when the new House opened in July 2014.

While she faced this terrifying situation far from home, the House helped Miranda to feel less alone. It was a place where her older son Kaiden could come to visit along with dad Jeff. When Jeff and Kaiden returned home to keep up with work and school, Miranda’s mom or grandma could stay and lend a helping hand. “You live in the the worst possible situation,” says Miranda. “Every parent’s nightmare, you live it every day. But here, you have somewhere to come back to, where you can just be a family.”

The House was also a place where Miranda made lifelong friends.“The community at the House was a huge lifesaver. We were one of the original families in Forest Kitchen,” Miranda remembers with a smile. She connected with a group of moms, all with babies and young children facing life-threatening challenges, who fully understood what she was going through and they formed a close bond.

At one year old, Grayson was discharged and was able to go home to Penticton for the first time, but he returns to Vancouver every three months to see specialists and has been amazing doctors with his progress over the past four years. His favourite spot in the House is the Magic Room, while Kaiden loves the games room and the slide. For the whole Dowling family, house programs such as guide dog visits and ticket donations to events like hockey games or the Christmas train provide “bright lights in the darkness” during stressful times.

And over the past 5 years, their RMH family has stayed with them every step of the way. “We schedule our appointments together so that we’re here at the same time,” says Miranda. As Miranda walks through the House, kids who have grown up alongside Grayson call her “auntie.” In honour of her RMH family, Miranda is planning to get an RMH tattoo.

Thanks to you, kids like Grayson and their families can stay together. Donate today and keep a family like the Dowlings close.