PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Oftentimes a family has the stay at the Ronald McDonald House for months on end. One young woman stayed at the house for so long that it truly became her home away from home.
"It's a home away from home," Zoe Hall said.
Zoe knows all too well just how at home it felt being at the Ronald McDonald House in Delaware. She spent months there last year after receiving a bone marrow transplant for the often painful, inherited red blood cell disorder.
"A couple of months after my transplant last year, I transitioned from the hospital to the Ronald McDonald House and I stayed there for almost nine months," she said.
Zoe and three of her siblings suffer from sickle cell. Her family was first introduced to the house years ago when her youngest sister was hospitalized.
The family lives in Dover, just under an hour from DuPont Hospital for Children.
"Our journey with the Ronald McDonald House began actually in that year. She was born early and with some significant medical issues," Zoe's mom said. "It was a heaven sent."
"We didn't know when we were introduced to the Ronald McDonald House that our stay was going to be so long," her father said. "So we did five months."
The Halls have eight children and at that time when Zoe and her siblings were much younger, the house provided a safe haven, a place where even a large family could find shelter and emotional support.
"They supported us socially, emotionally. They not only took care of our day-to-day needs but they really was there for us as it pertains to making sure our spirits were kept up," her father said.
The Halls know personally after spending two long stints at the Ronald McDonald House with two of their children just how necessary that facility is to so many families.
"I'm sure that before the Ronald McDonald House was a thing, people were struggling to find places to stay, finding food to eat," Zoe said, "because they worried about their sick child and so the Ronald McDonald House really helps to take the burden off families."
Zoe, now 20 years old and a certified nursing assistant, is sickle cell free. She hopes to one day provide the type of care she received along her health journey.
Meantime, her youngest sister is still battling health issues that we hope will one day be resolved.
A grateful family whose deep connections made at the Ronald McDonald House have left lasting friendships and a spirit of gratitude for a home away from home.
"I've made lasting friendships, connecting with some of the mothers there," Zoe's mom said. "I'm still connecting with them because we have that shared experience."
The Ronald McDonald House is truly a sanctuary for so many families.
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