Patient Care

Boy Pushed to the Brink of Death Twice is a ‘Miracle Times Two’

May. 19, 2016

Ryan Stinson defied the odds. Then, he did it again. 

Born at 34 weeks, Ryan’s parents, Melanie and Andy, were told their son would have a better chance of survival in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Ryan developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), an extremely serious intestinal illness in babies. Ryan’s intestines were perforated and leaking waste into his bloodstream and abdominal cavity. 

Yi-Horng Lee, M.D., along with Marsha Pulhamus, a pediatric nurse practitioner at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital, followed Ryan’s case from the start. His condition escalated so quickly that Lee operated right in the NICU. At just over 5 weeks old, Ryan had his first of four surgeries to remove portions of his small intestine. 

“Every time Dr. Lee went back in, more small intestine needed to be removed,” said Melanie. “It got to the point where we had to baptize him in the NICU because we didn’t know if he was going to make it.” Ultimately, Lee removed over 80 centimeters from Ryan’s intestinal tract. Ryan is now dealing with the effects of short bowel syndrome as a result of his surgeries.

In March, 2015, Ryan was just over one year old when he was brought back into the children’s hospital, where he was battling a new condition. He was essentially paralyzed, but his heart continued to function, and he was placed on a ventilator, where Erika Augustine, M.D., assistant professor of Neurology, met him. 

After running countless tests with inconclusive results, Augustine’s team determined he had infantile botulism, a rare and life-threatening disease. “The biggest challenge for me was to diagnose something I’ve never seen,” recalled Augustine.

Immunoglobulin was shipped from the California Department of Health for Ryan’s treatment, and after a two-month hospitalization, Ryan made a dramatic recovery.

“Ryan had already been through a lifetime of medical issues in just 14 months prior to his botulism,” said Augustine. “He’s truly a remarkable child having survived two prolonged ICU admissions with two separate rare diagnoses.” 

Thanks to his remarkable recovery, Ryan will be one of five youths honored at the Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Miracle Luncheon on May 20.  The luncheon, which celebrates young patients who have overcome significant medical challenges, takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.