Meet the Bonner Family

From Langford, BC

Elliot Bonner was born on Easter Sunday of 2021, 3 months premature. About a month later, as he was growing under the care of his medical team at Victoria General Hospital, doctors found brain swelling. Little Elliot, along with his parents Liz and Trevor, were airlifted to Vancouver at midnight that same night.

In Vancouver, Elliot was was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and had brain surgery at only 31 days old. After his surgery, he needed daily ultrasounds and monitoring to help relieve pressure on his brain, make sure that he was healing, and determine if he would need another surgery before going home.

During the four months that his parents spent by his side in Vancouver, Ronald McDonald House was there as a home base and a community to help them cope.

From their first day at the House, RMH BC helped Liz and Trevor to take care of themselves, so they could better take care of Elliot. The difference between staying at Ronald McDonald House and sleeping at the Hospital every night was clear: “I felt more resilient because I had a bit more distance, and sleep and nutrition,” says Liz.

As time went on, the House became more than just a place to sleep and became a crucial community of support. Liz remembers feeling isolated after arriving in Vancouver from her smaller community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. But, getting to know familiar faces in the staff, volunteers and families of RMH BC helped to lighten the load. “Being here alone, it’s nice having someone that says hello in the morning and knows your name. These small acts can make the darkest days a little brighter.”

Being here alone, it's nice having someone
that says hello in the morning and knows your name. These small acts can make the darkest days a little brighter.”

Liz has many fond memories of the community at the House. On her very first Mother’s Day, gifts made possible by generous donors made the day special. She loved seeing kids running around the House, laughing and playing and just being kids despite everything going on around them.

Support from the Family Meal program kept her going on overwhelming days: “When dashing back and forth between specialists and baby cuddles, it’s very easy for the time to get away from you.” She remembers staying late at the hospital one night, thinking she had missed a pizza dinner, but returned home to find that someone had tucked some slices into the freezer for her.

In return, to pay it forward, Liz would try to say hello to everyone she met, and bring that sense of community to others who needed it.

Her advice to other families coming to RMH BC for the first time? “Don’t be afraid to ask for help! While most of us have a lot of pride, and don’t feel comfortable asking for help, know that RMH is here to support families. Also – have the no-plan plan!”