Max McConville shows his Eagle Scout project, a sandbox, to Rudra...

Max McConville shows his Eagle Scout project, a sandbox, to Rudra Ramroop, 4, of Babylon, at the Ronald McDonald House on the Queens/Nassau border. McConville's parents stayed there when he was born and in the NICU at Cohen Children's Medical Center in nearby New Hyde Park. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Max McConville came into this world six weeks ahead of schedule and needing heart surgery. On Friday, nearly 17 years later, the Oyster Bay resident returned to give something back to the place his parents stayed free of charge during the first difficult weeks of his life.

The teen unveiled a freestanding sandbox at the Ronald McDonald House residential facility on the Queens/Nassau border that he built as an Eagle Scout project.

Though McConville has no memory of his first difficult day on Dec. 7, 2005, yearly heart checkups have served as a reminder. And mom and dad remember.

Sitting in a common area Friday of the Ronald McDonald House, Amy McConville recalled that she was already at Cohen Children’s Medical Center next door in New Hyde Park when she had to get an emergency C-section to deliver her first child.

Max McConville and his parents Amy and John at the...

Max McConville and his parents Amy and John at the unveiling of his Eagle Scout project, a sandbox, at the Ronald McDonald House in Queens. The McConvilles stayed at the house when their son was a newborn getting treated at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

“When he was born he basically turned blue and they whisked him to the NICU [Newborn Intensive Care Unit],” she said, tearing up at the memory.

For a time, the new parents didn’t know what was wrong with their child.

“We didn’t know what was going on, and then a couple hours later we found out that he needs heart surgery,” said John McConville. “We were in a state of shock. So staying here [at the Ronald McDonald House], when they offered that to us really, really helped.”

McConville had a congenital heart defect called “transposition of the great arteries” that the Mayo Clinic describes as “a serious, rare heart problem in which the two main arteries leaving the heart are reversed.”

Ronald McDonald House Charities New York Metro, an affiliate of the national organization, operates the 42-unit residential facility where the McConvilles stayed for about 2½ weeks. It serves approximately 1,000 families each year who generally stay about two weeks, spokeswoman Deepika Thadhani wrote in an email.

Max McConville spends some quality time with Ronald McDonald at the...

Max McConville spends some quality time with Ronald McDonald at the Ronald McDonald House in Queens, home to McConville's custom-made sandbox. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

“We didn’t want to leave his bedside after the surgery,” Amy McConville said. “John would be there until 2 o’clock in the morning, and then he’d come back to the room and then it was my turn.”

Growing up in Oyster Bay, McConville was drawn to scouting, joining the Cub Scouts and later Boy Scout Troop 299.

When it came time to propose an Eagle Scout project — one of the final steps toward earning the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America —  Ronald McDonald House was “the first group I reached out to,” McConville said.

“I was happy ... they were open to doing something,” he said. At first he wanted to build a sand pit, but with space scarce, they decided to make it freestanding.

McConville raised $1,200 for materials over the summer, and with adult help on the saw and a team of Scouts to assemble it in his backyard on a September afternoon, the sandbox was finished.

On Friday, a 4-year-boy who is staying at the Ronald McDonald House with his mother while his newborn sister is nearby at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, picked up a plastic shovel and started digging. Seeing the boy play with the sandbox was “really cool,” McConville said.