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New $10.5 million ‘Family House’ to be built in Dogtown for out-of-town families of transplant patients

New $10.5 million ‘Family House’ to be built in Dogtown for out-of-town families of transplant patients

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ST. LOUIS — Patients and their families traveling to St. Louis for an organ transplant will have a new place to stay in the city’s Dogtown neighborhood.

The Mid-America Transplant Foundation will break ground Friday on a 34,000-square-foot Family House in a residential area on Lloyd Avenue, a couple blocks west of Hampton Avenue. The house is expected to open in March 2022.

The $10.5 million building will double the capacity of the current Family House located in the Highlands at Forest Park apartment complex. The new house includes a community room along with 21 apartments with one to three bedrooms. Each apartment has a kitchen, bathroom and washer and dryer.

“Many patients come to St. Louis for our world-class medical care, but it can take months to receive and recover from a lifesaving transplant, and finding a comfortable, affordable long-term place to stay is a real challenge for families,” said Nesa Joseph, board chair of the foundation. “At Family House, families can stay together during this period and focus on what matters most — the health and recovery of the patient.”

The apartments are available to families at low or no cost who live farther than 25 miles away from St. Louis. Costs range from $15 to $25 per day, with lower rates available for eligible families.

Several transplant recipients and former Family House residents will join doctors and Mid-America Transplant officials at a groundbreaking ceremony Friday at the new site.

Avery Engelman, 22, a Florida native who lived in Family House as a teenager, said her family’s stay at the house inspired her to work at a similar charity serving out-of-town families with loved ones in the hospital.

“Now, five years after my double lung transplant, I’m working as the events manager at Ronald McDonald House Charities in Orlando, so I can help other families feel that same kind of comfort and support,” Engelman said.

The new house will be located near St. Louis’ four major transplant centers: Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and SSM Health’s Cardinal Glennon Children’s and St. Louis University hospitals.

The foundation for Mid-America Transplant opened its first Family House in 2013. Since then, an average of 40 patients and their families have stayed at the Family House each year. The average length of stay is 94 days.

Mid-America Transplant facilitates and coordinates organ and tissue donation in 84 counties covering eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and northeast Arkansas.

“The Family House is an important part of our mission to be stewards of our donors’ lifesaving gifts,” said Diane Brockmeier, president of Mid-America Transplant. “By helping to make transplants as successful as possible, our donors’ legacies live on.”

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