Ryan's Story

By Kellianna Wirth

Tell us your story.

Ryan's time at Children's began March 5th, 2006. He was three years old. Ryan had been sick for over a week and just could not shake his cold. After several visits to the nearby walk-in-clinic and repeated calls to their offices it seemed there was nothing more to do than let him ride it out. On that morning we found him gasping for breath after just climbing a flight of stairs. We rushed him to the walk-in-clinic where they took a chest x-ray and discovered he had pneumonia. He rode an ambulance to the closest hospital where after spending a few hours trying to figure out why his pneumonia was so severe, they decided the best possible course was to have him airlifted to Children's Hospital in Seattle.

After a very long drive to Seattle, we found Ryan being entertained by the emergency room staff. Shortly after our arrival they whisked him off to his room in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and after assessing him, giving him antibiotics and giving us a run down of procedures and a basic understanding of the machines he was hooked up to, we were finally ready to settle down.

The hospital is the most amazing place. We had a room where my husband could sleep the night, a place to take a shower, computers to send e-mail to far away relatives and employers as well as a friendly understanding staff. Ryan was diagnosed with Pneumonia and Empyema. While most people know what pneumonia is and the basic treatments for it, most people have never heard of empyema. Empyema is a collection of pus in the cavity between the lung and the membrane that surrounds it. This fluid was crushing the other organs in his chest and had moved his esophagus so far over that after more than a week of antibiotics and assessments it was decided that he had to have a Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery (VATS). While it was a nightmare to us, the doctors and nurses helped us through it. Ryan came through it wonderfully and after a few days of recovery was able to finally come home.

What does Children's mean to you, your child and your family?

Children's means the life of my son and there is nothing more precious than that. In the two weeks we spent there (two weeks that felt like a lifetime) we were constantly in the presence of caring and understanding staff. They helped me through the most terrifying time in my life. They provided a place where our family could find some sort of calm despite the turbulance of what was going on. They took amazing care of my little boy and in my opinion saved his life. That being said, Children's couldn't possibly mean any more to me than my own child. Even Ryan realizes what Children's has done for him and it means so much to him that he decided to ask everyone to give money to Children's for his fifth birthday this year. They save lives there and they make it just a little easier on the families who have to "live" there while they do it. I'll be eternally grateful to Children's. They made my little boy happy and healthy again.