The Rachel Lynn Smith Foundation

When Rachel went to Durham, North Carolina to receive her transplant at Duke University Medical Center, she and her family had to have a place to stay that was within 10 minutes of the hospital. Her family was very blessed to have the use of a townhouse that had been donated by an extremely generous family for all but 7 months of their two year stay in the area. During the other 7 months, they rented a furnished apartment. The cost for temporary housing located close to the hospital ranges between $2,100.00 and $2,400.00 a month. This often creates a tremendous hardship for families who already have obligations at home and who are now dealing with mounting medical expenses as well. Additionally, these apartments are not suitable for transplant patients. After beginning the transplant process with chemotherapy, patients are left for quite some time without an immune system. Any little thing--something as simple as a cold--could be deadly to these children. Molds and mildew are especially dangerous. As a result, they need an environment that is as sanitary as possible, one that is free of carpet and equipped with furniture that is easy to clean. Also, a high standard of air quality is essential.

The Rachel Lynn Smith Foundation was established for this purpose. Our mission is to provide assistance to pediatric Blood Stem Cell transplant patients and their families with transplant--friendly housing and support while they are displaced from their home during the critical stages of the transplant process. It is our goal to provide housing that is not only safe, but comfortable and pleasant as well. Since patients and their families are very isolated during this time, we feel that it is very important to provide a sense of community for them while they are away from their family and friends. Rather than having them dispersed throughout the Durham area, it is our aim to bring them together in an environment where they can receive the kind of support that is so vital to the recovery process. A place where children who have become friends while in the hospital together can continue to spend time with one another. Also, to help lighten the load on these families, onsite caregivers would be available 24/7 to help out with such things as transportation and lab work deliveries. In addition, we would like to include a “playroom” or common area where patients and parents can be together to encourage one another and where toys, games, and movies can be checked out and enjoyed during their stay. Here, community events like movie and dinner nights could be held. These are just some of the many services that our foundation plans to provide. Children who must undergo the rigors of a transplant will experience some of the most difficult days of their entire lives, and in many cases these days will be their last. Help us to help them as we strive to provide surroundings that are pleasant, safe, and as supportive as possible.

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