The Best (and Worst) 25 Days of our Lives

August 19, 2014
Topics: Riley Kid Story

Owen Boatright
Our son, Owen Boatright

No Ordinary “Bug”

Life was normal for our family last year when our 9-year-old son Owen became sick the day before Thanksgiving. We thought he had an intestinal bug and would be fine in a few days. We missed Thanksgiving with our family. By early Saturday morning Owen was passing blood in his stool. I sought advice from a friend who is a nurse, and she advised me that Owen may have E. coli.  Unfortunately, I knew E. coli could have a disastrous outcome.

We went to Hendricks Regional Hospital and Owen was immediately transferred to Riley Hospital since kidney problems can be associated with E. coli and he needed access to advanced specialists. We were welcomed with caring, compassionate arms from the minute we reached the doors of Riley Hospital until we left 25 days later. The doctors, nurses and staff quickly became part of our family.

A Turn for the Worse

Within four days of admittance, Owen’s condition took a turn for the worse. He was in full renal failure and had been diagnosed with HUS (Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome). There is no treatment for E. coli—it’s a “wait and see” game. You treat the symptoms as they present themselves and pray that your child recovers.

While things looked bad, it was comforting to hear the staff talk about pediatric nephrologist Sharon Andreoli, M.D. She was the best in the country, we were told; she wrote the book on HUS. While she is the BEST, Dr. Andreoli will tell you that they have a great renal team. I was amazed at the humility of everyone at Riley. There were no egos to be found, and my family always felt like part of the team when it came to Owen’s treatment.

Twists, Turns and Grace

Dr. Andreoli told us from the beginning how things could play out. She didn’t try to hide the truth and we appreciated knowing the full scope of what we were up against. Owen faced many complications during his 25-day stay at Riley. We knew he was going to need dialysis, a central line and maybe a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, Owen faced other complications. He had to have fluid drained from his lung. He developed a bowel abscess that was fought by a powerful antibiotic, and his body was not cooperating with the dialysis.

The Thursday before Christmas they decided to switch Owen’s form of dialysis to a more invasive form called hemodialysis. We didn’t know how his story would end. Up to this point, everything seemed to be going wrong. Then, by the grace of God, on the day Owen was to be switched to hemodialysis, his kidneys woke up. We were so grateful for the quick thinking of Dr. Andreoli, who decided to put the switch on hold for four more hours. The next blood draw showed Owen was on his way to recovery. We thank God and we thank Dr. Andreoli for the wisdom she used on that day.

Giving Back

Owen always wants to help others and puts people before himself. He decided to turn his illness into a chance to help others at Riley. Instead of bringing him gifts, he asked that people donate money to Riley. He raised $2,300, which he happily gave to the nephrology team through the hospital’s fundraising arm, Riley Children’s Foundation.

Our Riley “Family”

Eight months after Owen’s illness, he is perfect. Owen still continues to visit his “Riley Family” when he gets the chance. They still greet him with the same warm smiles and hugs that he received on November 30, 2013. One of his favorite doctors, Dr. Jeffrey Leiser (lovingly renamed “Dr. Bow Tie” by Owen) has even inspired Owen’s newest fashion style. He was so good with Owen, and so much fun. Dr. Leiser helped us have good memories attached to his illness, not just painful ones.

We believe God placed us in the path of the best people. We will be forever grateful to God and the people who helped to be part of the miracle.

Riley Blogger

The Riley Blog is written and/or edited by members of the Riley Children's Foundation Communications Staff.

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