Jessica Lines can’t shake the doctor’s words, “I’m sorry, he didn’t make it” from her heart.
Only one month after her baby Ryan turned one, he woke with a runny nose that turned out to be a fatal infection, known as Strep A, which sent him into septic shock.
Over the next year, the tiny tot went into cardiac arrest, was dead for 10 minutes, and had both “his perfect little feet” amputated.
Now, nearing his second birthday, Ryan is learning to walk again on his new legs while his mom is building awareness on her “Sepsis Superhero,” so no parent has the same horrifying experience with their baby.
Ryan was born November 3, 2021, to a young Australian couple, Jessica and Sam Lines, and is the baby brother to four-year-old Rory.
On December 8, Ryan woke up with a runny nose and for the first part of the day, he seemed to be his usual “cheeky” self.
As the day went on, Jessica explained that he was getting weaker, lethargic, and “starting to not be himself, he was very clingy and wimping, quiet [and] dazed.”
His frantic parents rushed him to the emergency room, where after assuming his fussiness was due to teething, he was sent home.
The next morning, Ryan’s condition showed no improvement, and again his parents rushed him to the hospital, demanding more tests.
The family learned he had a Streptococcus infection, known as Strep A, which started with a runny nose but quickly became life-threatening when he went into severe septic shock.
Ryan was flown from his home in the outback mining town of Broken Hill to Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital, where over the next four months, he underwent multiple amputations after extensive blood clotting deprived his limbs of oxygen.
After pulling through, doctors told Jessica and Sam that Ryan would have brain damage and lose parts of his face as well as his legs and hands.
“Thankfully that’s not the case,” Jessica said. “It’s crazy to me to think that he just had a simple runny nose and sore throat and it advanced into something so serious,” Jessica told ABC News, adding his only other symptoms were muscular pain and peeing less.
Sharing the horrific journey with other parents on her Facebook, Jessica wrote on January 8, “For a whole month every day I remember being told, ‘I’m sorry he didn’t make it, he went into cardiac arrest and they are doing CPR’” The post continues, “A whole month of running out and seeing CPR done on my baby screaming and begging for them not to stop, this lasted 10 minutes and then I heard the words ‘we got him back.’”
In February, the baby’s “perfect little feet” and legs had to be amputated.
The GoFundMe created to help the family cover exorbitant medical costs along with future modifications for their home, reveals that Ryan also had surgery to amputate all his fingertips and multiple fingers.
Now, advocating for pediatric sepsis awareness, Jessica urges others to trust their “parent instincts. “You know your child best so if you feel something isn’t right, keep pushing until you get answers.”
Group A streptococcal infections
Group A is a type of bacteria often found in the throat and on the skin. Group A streptococcal infections commonly cause sore throats, also known as strep throat.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 14,000 to 25,000 cases of invasive group A strep disease each year across the U.S. It reports, “In the last five years between 1,500 and 2,300 people die annually due to invasive group A strep disease”
Common symptoms include:
- Feels abnormally cold to touch
- Looks mottled, bluish, or has very pale skin
- Is breathing very fast
- Has a convulsion
- Has a rash that does not fade when pressed
- Is very lethargic or difficult to wake
For children under five:
- Not drinking or feeding
- Repeated vomiting
- 12 hours without urinating
On October 3, 2023, Jessica posted a clip that showed Ryan learning to walk again with the help of an aide.
“So proud, one day at a time,” she writes of her “Sepsis Superhero.”
“We still have a very long journey ahead but we’re so thankful our little boy is still here with us,” Jessica shares. “Always trust your gut – if you feel something isn’t right don’t take no for an answer.”
And though Jessica and Sam aren’t sure what Ryan’s future looks like, they will “give him the best life possible.”
“Everyone is so surprised that he survived, and the outcome has been more positive than what we thought it would be.” She continued, “Our little boy is such a miracle, but the reality is that Ryan was very very sick.”
Ryan is a little trooper, and we are so happy to see he survived the worst. We send the family our healing thoughts and look forward to seeing the adorable little boy bouncing around on his new legs!
The majority of us have likely heard of Strep A or sepsis, but just in case you haven’t, please share this story with your friends so parents know the signs.