Charlie Hudson is a little girl with a big heart. She is always watching out for others and making sure they have whatever they need. But when Charlie had heart surgery, she needed her support system – her parents, sister and grandparents – nearby to help her recover quickly. Thanks to you, her family could stay at FedExFamilyHouse and focus all their energy on caring for Charlie.
"I talk about old souls all the time and we kind of feel that way about her," says Kim Martin, also known as Nuna – that's Charlie's nickname for her maternal grandmother.
"She comes in a room, and she just she goes from person to person to make sure that everybody's okay. Do we have a drink? Are we hungry? She's just making sure everyone has whatever they need."
That big heart of Charlie's started out with some big problems. Diagnosed with a congenital heart defect at 20 weeks in utero, Charlie had her first surgery at just four days old. Four more surgeries took her family, which lives in Greensboro, N.C., to nearby Winston-Salem and then to Philadelphia, Penn., to repair Charlie's VSD, or ventricular septal defect. But her pediatric cardiologist in North Carolina discovered more damage, this time to the tricuspid valve (TSV) and conduit. He referred her to Le Bonheur and pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Christopher Knott-Craig.
That meant yet another trip out of town for the Hudson family and another surgery for Charlie. But this time, there was the FedExFamilyHouse, a place for Charlie's parents Nicole and Jonathan, little sister Riley and grandparents Kim and Joseph Martin, Jr. (also known as Nuna and Poppy) to call home throughout Charlie's surgery and hospitalization.
"The experience was phenomenal," says Kim. "Just the peace of mind from being right across from the hospital, and not having to worry about where we're going to wash our clothes, where we are eating, having to drive a distance to see Charlie. It was like a five star hotel and when we walked in, we were greeted just like family."
"The rooms were just so comfortable, that was really lovely to have," adds Nicole. "It just seemed like home when we were there." Nicole appreciated the little touches – a private refrigerator and pantry for the family, the playground and children's games at the house, and especially the opportunity for Kim and Jonathan to get out of the hospital and focus some attention on Charlie's little sister as well as recharge their batteries.
"It allowed for my parents to stay with Charlie… It made my heart feel better, knowing she knew that we were still there for her, and for us to recuperate and get out of a hospital setting."
FedExFamilyHouse also became home for Charlie following her discharge, allowing the family to stay in a healthy environment near the hospital for her post-op check-up. Both Kim and Nicole believe being at FedEx Family House helped Charlie regain a sense of normalcy in the days after her operation, especially with her sister Riley.
"They are very close, and Riley just being able to be there for Charlie and support her and her normalcy was of a great benefit for her to heal faster," says Kim. "That was definitely such a blessing to have all that."