Butler Family: Pictured left is Cooper, Flynn and Zoey. Pictured right is Cooper, Flynn and Zoey with Mum, Leea and Dad, Lee.

Ronald McDonald House Charities South East Queensland support families from all across Queensland who require accommodation in Brisbane whilst their child is receiving care for a serious illness or injury, including the Butler family who have travelled far from home to stay at Ronald McDonald House on numerous occasions so their children could receive specialist care. 

Leea Butler and her husband Lee were excitedly awaiting the arrival of their first baby when complications arose 27 weeks into Leea’s pregnancy and she developed the serious condition pre-eclampsia.

Leea – who lives in a small rural community in Central Queensland – was airlifted by Careflight helicopter to Rockhampton Base hospital, where tests revealed her baby was experiencing severe intrauterine growth restriction. Leea was soon in the air again, this time being flown to Brisbane, 600km from her home.

“By the time we reached Brisbane both bub and I were in a critical condition and we were admitted for an emergency caesarean,” reveals Leea, later diagnosed as having a blood-clotting disorder.

“The next two weeks in hospital went by in a haze as I struggled to recover while my little 753gram baby boy struggled on in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.”

Meanwhile Lee, who had flown to his wife and newborn son Cooper’s side, was welcomed into the Ronald McDonald House next door to the hospital. After being discharged from hospital, Leea also moved into the House, while Lee, who had just started a new job, did the long commute to and from their home each weekend.

“It ended up being three long months we called Ronald McDonald House home,” says Leea.

“There’s no way we could have spent those days beside Cooper had it not been for Ronald McDonald House. To know there was a beautiful room, home-cooked meals and kind, comforting faces waiting for just across the road was such a relief.”

After Cooper was finally discharged, Leea still had to make regular trips back to Brisbane for Cooper’s ongoing medical care. “This time we stayed in the beautiful new Ronald McDonald House at South Brisbane which is across the road from the [former] Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital”.

Two years later, Leea became pregnant again with baby Flynn and needed close monitoring due to her history and blood clotting disorder. She spent the last six weeks of her pregnancy back at Ronald McDonald House Herston – in the same room as when Cooper was born! Then two years old, little Cooper thrived in the warm, loving environment of the House.

“After spending time at Ronald McDonald House, my shy little boy came out of his shell, making some dear friends he couldn’t wait to play within the family areas.”

Leea and Lee are now thrilled to have welcomed their third child – daughter Zoey. “Once again we called Ronald McDonald House home as we waited for the safe arrival of Zoey” says Leea.

As a major partner for RMHC SEQ, Team Transurban are aiming to fund RMHC SEQ’s in-hospital emergency accommodation at Queensland Children’s Hospital for a third year through their Bridge to Brisbane fundraising appeal.

Click here to register, fundraise or donate to RMHC SEQ.