Hospital Staff Helps Make First Birthday Happier

May 1, 2014

Ryder Braddy had his first birthday in the PICU
at Mercy Kids Hospital in St. Louis. One of his nurses
took this picture of him. 

A first birthday is often memorable because of how the birthday boy or girl celebrates, but for Ryder Braddy and his family, it was the people around him that made his day extra special.

Two days before Christmas, Ryder had been to see by Dr. David Liu at Nagireddi Pediatrics in Crystal City. The soon to be birthday boy was diagnosed with pneumonia and was given treatment and antibiotics. Ryder has acute asthma, so respiratory illnesses are even more challenging.

“We made it through Christmas but he just wasn’t getting better, so we were back in the doctor’s office the day after,” Jill Braddy said. “They told us he needed to go to the hospital.”

Ron and Jill Braddy of Festus chose to take Ryder to Mercy Kids in Creve Coeur.

“When we got to the ER it was absolutely packed, but the nurses took him right back” Jill said. “The ER took great care of him, but he started breathing rapidly and his heart rate jumped to 200-something. They called a rapid response.”

Jill Braddy she said she wasn’t sure what all was happening, but she said the calm professionalism and direct approach of the nursing staff helped to make the situation more bearable.

“They were very reassuring. They said, ‘everything is not OK, but we are going to make it OK.’ They were very caring, but they were also very honest,” Jill said.

The day after Christmas was turning to the night after Christmas when Ryder was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit. His birthday is December 27. While the nurses and doctors got Ryder’s breathing and heart rate back to normal levels, his exhausted parents finally got a little sleep through the night.

“I don’t know how they knew it was his birthday, but when we woke up they had decorated his door with drawings and balloons. He was in isolation in the PICU, but they had books, and a Snoopy stuffed animal, stacking cups, a teddy bear and socks for him. The nurses sang Happy Birthday.”

With all the commotion and activity of the day, Mom and Dad’s cell phones had died, but the nurses knew that pictures of a baby’s first birthday were a very important keepsake.

“One of the nurses took a picture with her cell phone and texted it to me,” Jill said. “That was just an example of the above and beyond care we received.” 

Ryder spent a total of five days in the hospital and while he was in the PICU, restriction on visitors is very strict. His 5-year-old brother Weston was upset, Jill said.

“I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, but they let him in to see Ryder. It meant so much to his big brother,” Jill said. “The nurses and the PICU doctors were all so nice and attentive.”

While he still battles asthma attacks from time to time, Ryder has been healthy since. He still sees Dr. Liu and Venkata Nagireddi, MD, for his regular pediatrician visits, and pulmonologist John Spivey, MD, at Mercy Kids in St. Louis. 

His first birthday picture may not include the traditional messy cake face, but because of the care of others, it is certainly one that will be remembered beyond the photographs.

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