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Ryan's Courageous Journey

My son, Ryan, was cracking jokes with the Emergency Medical Technicians as he lay on the gurney in the ambulance on the way to John Muir Health’s Emergency Department. He had just been injured at a local Pleasant Hill wrestling exhibition at his high school.  At the time, I believed Ryan had simply pinched a nerve in his neck and that we’d be home in time for our family dinner. 

After an initial CAT scan and assessment by Dr. Sean Martin, a Trauma Team surgeon, we learned that Ryan had an acute injury to his spinal cord.  Ryan’s injury was at the C4/C5 level which can include loss of diaphragm function; paralysis in the arms, hands, torso and legs; and possibly the indefinite use of a breathing ventilator.  The injury was very serious and life altering.

The next 24 hours were a blur, as we waited for Ryan to make it through three extensive surgeries.

John Muir Health’s Trauma Team responded quickly and efficiently to stabilize the injury to Ryan’s spinal cord.  Dr. Jason Cheng, Neurosurgeon, took the lead on the first two spinal surgeries. The third and final surgery that day repaired an artery in Ryan’s neck to prevent a possible blood clot from forming and traveling to his brain.  The surgeries all went well, but I knew Ryan would have to summon every ounce of strength he had to get through the very difficult road ahead.

I’m happy to tell you that Ryan persevered beyond anyone’s expectations (even his own)!   The entire care team, including surgeons Dr. Cheng and Dr. Martin and Neurointensivists Dr. Moussa Yazbeck and Dr. Oana Spataru, were phenomenal. The nurses and therapists went above and beyond what I ever imagined possible, and their care, support and expertise gave my child the gift of survival.   

Ryan spent nearly three weeks in John Muir Health’s Neuro Intensive Care Unit.

Today, less than a year since his injury, Ryan is beginning to walk using the aid of a walker and even ride a 3-wheel bicycle. He is expected to graduate from high school with the rest of his 2020 classmates!

Your continued support of John Muir Health gave my son the very best chance for a healthy life.  Each and every day I am grateful to you and the outstanding care Ryan and our family received.

Please join me this holiday season in supporting the invaluable asset we have in our local community hospital, John Muir Health.  Your gift today will help save the lives of patients like Ryan when they need quality, compassionate care close to home.

With much gratitude,

Kristin signature

Kristin  Joseph

Ryan's Mom

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