Home is Where the Heart Heals

Eric & Jazlyn's Story

Sometimes a family shares a story that highlights the impact Ronald McDonald Houses have across generations and geography. This is one of those heartfelt examples: a multi-generational story of love, healing and support that unfolded across Texas at the Ronald McDonald Houses in Corpus Christi, Harlingen and Houston.

Two Hearts, Two Houses

Jazlyn Barrera was born in 2001 with hypo-plastic left heart syndrome, a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart.  She would require a series of surgeries to correct the defect. Her mother, Jazmin, stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Corpus Christi for a month and a half while her newborn daughter received life-saving treatment. 

In 2002, Eric Garza was born with atrioventricular block, a cardiac disorder that slows or blocks the electrical impulses in the heart. Eric’s mother and grandmother stayed at the Ronald McDonald House of the Rio Grande Valley in Harlingen for nearly a month, where they could stay close to Eric during his surgery and recovery to implant a pacemaker.

Eric and Jazlyn healed from their pediatric heart surgeries and grew up to be healthy, active adults.

Grandma Knows Best

Despite their separate beginnings, Eric and Jazlyn found themselves brought together by Eric’s grandmother in 2022.

“Eric’s grandma saw a picture of me and thought we would make a cute couple,” Jazlyn says. “We hadn’t even dated for a year when we got married because we knew that we were right for each other.”

When Jazlyn learned she was expecting, the young couple was ecstatic. But their excitement was tinged with caution. With their dual histories of heart defects, there was the danger of complications for Jazlyn as well as for their unborn child. On doctors’ recommendations, the couple traveled to Houston to deliver their baby.

My doctors wanted me to deliver in Houston due to my past heart history and the congenital heart disease specialists wanted to monitor me closely,” explains Jazlyn.

Eric and Jazlyn, along with their parents and in-laws arrived at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston a few days before her due date. As they congregated in the Great Room of Holcombe House after dinner, they reminisced and shared stories with the staff from their family’s past Ronald McDonald House experiences. They were surprised to learn that they weren’t the only ones who had joined lives. The Harlingen and Corpus Christi Houses had also merged in 2021 to become the Ronald McDonald House Charities South Texas.

A New Generation Arrives

On March 22, 2024, Baby Jaylyn was born and received a perfect bill of health. Her joyous arrival marked three generations of RMHC alumni staying at Holcombe House. The entire family was able to return home just a few days after Jaylyn’s arrival.

“We’re still learning about being parents, but we are so happy and enjoying every step of the way. We enjoy watching baby Jay grow, and spending quality time together as a family,” wrote Jazlyn in an update.

“We are so thankful for everything that the Ronald McDonald Houses provided for us. They made our situations much easier. And we felt right at home thanks to the helpful and wonderful staff and volunteers. We are eternally grateful!”

Currently, there are over 380 Ronald McDonald Houses worldwide that provide a home away from home for families who have a child, including prenatal, that is receiving critical medical care. Although each House is operated independently, anyone that stays with RMHC will always be considered part of our extended family.