The family of the late Harley McDonald has initiated a fundraiser to name a room at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital in Iowa City. McDonald, of Scranton, passed away last winter after suffering injuries in a cabin fire. They want to rename room No. 314, after Harley's dirt bike racing number.  JEFFERSON HERALD FILE PHOTO

McDonald family initiates fundraiser to name UIowa Hospital room after late son, Harley

SUPPORT THE CAUSE Donations can be made to the H. D. McDonald PICU-Burn Memorial Fundraiser at the following link . The fundraiser was extended through May. The McDonald family is hoping to raise enough money to rename room No. 314 after their late son, who passed away due to burns from a cabin fire in 2022.

By Brandon Hurley
Managing editor

It would’ve been easy for a family dealing with an unimaginable tragedy to ask for money for their own benefit, to help settle the debt of medical bills.

Hardly anyone would’ve blamed them for seeking support of their own.

Not the McDonalds. In true form reminiscent of their late son, Harley, the family chose to honor those who helped him survive, who fought to save him. They wanted to help others, just like the doctors did for them.
Because of the hospital’s heroic efforts, the McDonalds have initiated a fundraiser, hoping to name a room at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s in honor of Harley McDonald, a 15-year old Scranton resident who passed away last year from injuries sustained in a cabin fire.

Donations can be made to the H. D. McDonald PICU-Burn Memorial Fundraiser at the following link.
The fundraiser comes a full year after Harley’s death, a 12-month period which the McDonalds used for reflection and coping. While they’ll never truly get over the death of their child, they figured this was a good way to move forward.

“Since losing Harley last year, we have had a lot of time to navigate through our grief and with the support of our family and friends have been able to find ways to cope with our loss,” the family said on its fundraiser page.

The fundraiser was recently extended to run through May. Donations will help enhance treatments for future patients by providing continuing education for doctors, surgeons and nursing staff in the University of Iowa PICU and the burn treatment center as well as providing scholarships for interns focused on joining the burn unit. The fundraiser had brought in $7,000 as of March 28.

“With your help, we can return the support to the surgeons, doctors, and nursing staff that supported us and our son during our 13 days at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital,” the details of the fundraiser read. “Their love and compassion to our son, Harley, to our friends and family, and to us and our girls, was beyond exceptional.

The hospital’s knowledge and quick response times allowed Harley to survive 13 days longer than he was expected to after suffering third and fourth degree burns to over 90 percent of his body, inside and out.”


McDonald was midway through his freshman year at the Greene County High School when he passed Jan. 14, 2022 at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City following a nearly two week battle with burn injuries he sustained in a crippling New Year’s Day fire.

A rural cabin roughly five miles north of Scranton went up in flames that morning, believed to be caused by a wood-burning stove. The Greene County sheriff’s office was notified of two juveniles at the hospital in Carroll at 3:30 a.m. Jan. 1.  McDonald suffered a number of severe injuries, and though he tried to will himself back together again, never made it out of the hospital.
A funeral was held a few weeks later at the Scranton Community Center, with hundreds of friends, family and admirers attending an emotional ceremony.
Doctors gave Harley a survival rate of 20 percent due to the extent of his burns - which covered nearly 90 percent of his body. The news hit his parents and family hard. They were going to lose their son.

“(It was) earth-shattering news to us as parents,” Nina McDonald, Harley’s mom, said in a post on her Carinbridge site for Harley. “The first two days were very rough with lots of emergency surgeries and procedures trying to keep his body going.

The McDonald family are grateful of the team of surgeons and doctors who refused to shy away from Harley’s case, instead pushing forward to come up with new ideas to help him survive and perhaps make a recovery. He wasn’t expected to make it through day two, as his body began shutting down.

Doctors encouraged the McDonald family to prepare their eternal goodbyes, inviting close friends to Iowa City to share stories of the youngster and to enjoy their final moments together. So, that’s what the family did, bringing the most important people together to help the young boy through his final minutes.

“The love in his room that day was immeasurable,” Nine said. “It is crazy to think that a 15-year old can touch so many lives in that short of a time, but Harley was different.
Everyone that knew him, grew to love him. He was a friend to everyone that he met, young and old alike.”

Miraculously, Harley pulled through the challenges of that second day and lived for another week-and-a-half, 11 more days, thanks to the continued support of the UIHC staff. That fight, that will to live and the dedication of the many doctors truly inspired the McDonald family, so much so they felt they had to do something to honor their son as well as those passionate medical professionals.

“Even though we would love this to be a story of survival rather than memories, we hope our story gives us the hope needed to hang on and know they can endure so much more than they think possible,” the family said on the fundraiser page.

ROOM NO. 314

Harley McDonald loved to race motocross. His number was 314, a marking sprinkled all over the Scranton Community Center during his funeral. A number of clothing articles and hats were commissioned with the number on it. Likely, if you spot a pair of wings adorned with the number 314 out in the community, that someone is showing their respect to the late Harley.

In an eerie coincidence, Harley fought much of his battle after the fire in room 314 at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics in Iowa City.

Harley was initially held in the UIHC burn unit, but was later transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit, to the third floor. His room number in the PICU… 314. The spiritual forces were too hard to ignore, as the young boy survived much longer than doctors thought he would due to the extent his burns. But he fought, pushing through the pain and tears of family members. That hospital room, 314, will forever have meaning to the McDonalds.

“We took this as a sign as this (was) where he was supposed to be,” Nina said. “Our time at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital was not a fun experience, but a genuine one.
We believe our son’s team of doctors, surgeons, and nursing staff did all they could do for Harley.”

The McDonald family initiated the fundraiser March 5 and four weeks later had crossed the $7,000 mark.
One-hundred percent of money raised will go toward the room dedication as well as continuing education for doctors and nurses in the UIHC burn unit.

“We have made it our mission to name room #314 in honor of Harley,” Nina said. “With the donations we receive for our fundraiser, we will be able to give back to the hospital, doctors, nurses, and staff members that were there for Harley during his 14 days at the hospital.”

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