Owen Abrams was born at just 24 weeks old weighing only 1 pound and 2 oz. Despite his size, he came into the world a fighter. Hooked up to tubes, IVs and an oxygen mask, Owen began the difficult process of growing and developing outside of the womb. His parents, Darlene and Nick Abrams, stayed by his side for those first 5 months in the hospital – leaving only to get meals at the nearby Ronald McDonald House and to drive the 20 miles home to sleep each night. To Nick and Darlene, every mile away from Owen was too far from their baby. Owen continued to fight and was finally able to leave the hospital. The family was reunited again.
Their stay at home was short-lived, for Owen had to return to the hospital after catching a cold that injured his delicate lungs. This time, Darlene and Nick were able to find a room across the street at San Diego’s Ronald McDonald House.
This room became their “home away from home” for the next two years as Owen battled against the damage to his lungs. They found a refuge from the bells and noises of the hospital in this space. But most importantly, the Ronald McDonald House allowed them to remain near Owen, especially on those long nights when he struggled. “San Diego’s Ronald McDonald House provided us the ability to stay close to Owen when he needed us most. It helped us to stay strong, healthy, and nourished when we all needed it most.”
Through the ups and downs of Owen’s hospitalization, Darlene and Nick were at Owen’s side. When they weren’t at the hospital, they were at the Ronald McDonald House. They ate and slept there. Nick set up an office in his room and worked remotely. They had date nights and celebrated birthdays and milestones along the way.
Owen was able to leave the hospital and continue his journey – growing and developing into a smiley young boy who loves trucks, the beach and being a new big brother.
Since Owen spent his first 2 birthdays in the hospital, each birthday after has been celebrated as a special milestone. Last year Owen turned six during the COVID-19 pandemic. Undaunted, the family celebrated in a socially distanced way – driving to visit all of Owen’s favorite spots.
6th Birthday Celebration
Looking back on their experience, Darlene recalls, “Our saving grace was our home away from home, literally steps away from our little Owen, who was struggling for his life. We are deeply thankful to all who make the Ronald McDonald House the blessing it is for families like ours.”