‘WE CAN’T THANK HIM ENOUGH’
New Canaan parents thank EMT worker for saving child’s life
NEW CANAAN — Dan Bach met 15-month-old Ryan Martin for the second time last Friday, when parents Angela and Peter Martin came to thank Bach for saving their child’s life.
The first time the pair met, Ryan was just coming out a seizure, similar to episodes he has experienced since he was 5 or 6 months old.
In spite of taking the child to several doctors, Angela and Peter could not seem to find an answer why their son had been experiencing concerning episodes that included lethargy, twitches and screaming.
On Aug. 2, Ryan’s grandmother called an ambulance while his mother held him in her arms. By the time Bach, an Advanced Life Support worker, arrived, Ryan’s seizure had abated.
Bach still urged the parents to let him take the child to the hospital for testing.
Ryan has since been diagnosed with a rare disease called congenital hyperinsulinism, a genetic
disorder in which the pancreas produces too much insulin, which causes hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
The Martins believe that Bach’s determination to get Ryan tested made a profound difference. In fact, the family was so grateful to Bach that they surprised him while he was working at the EMS building at 777 Main St. on Sept. 24 in order to thank him once more and present him with a gift.
“I attribute his life to Dan’s persistence to going to the hospital,” Ryan’s mother said. “He could have died.”
“We can’t thank him enough,” Ryan’s father said as they gave Bach a small gift bag.
Bach was very gratified to have the visit, because generally he “never hears what happened” to patients after he treats them and he was worried about the child.
“Makes me feel like I make a difference,” Bach said
After he arrived at the Martin’s home, Bach took the child into the ambulance to check his vital signs, a routine the Weston resident had followed during many emergency visits over the 14 years he has been an emergency worker.
This time was different, though. In all of the “countless blood tests” Bach had taken to check blood sugar, he had never seen the gauge give such “abnormal” results as it did that day. It did not register a number, rather the gauge said “low,” which made Bach wonder if the “meter might be wrong,” he said.
Bach said he was shocked because it meant that Ryan’s sugar levels were “extremely low,” explaining that no reading on the gauge meant his levels had to be under 10 milligrams per deciliter, (mg/dL) in comparison to a normal range is 60 to 120 mg/dL.
To help Ryan recover, Dan installed a catheter to give dextrose “into a very little vein.”
Since then, the Martins have been told to check their son’s readings regularly and keep it at 80 to 100 mg/dL.
When Ryan first started experiencing seizures they were infrequent, but the week his parents called the ambulance they had happened nearly every day.
In trying to determine why he was having the seizures, the Martins had taken Ryan to a cardiologist, ophthalmologist, two neurologists and a pediatrician. The medical experts “were perplexed,” and ”no one could tell us what was going on,” Angela Martin said.
One doctor thought perhaps the episodes were caused by sleep apnea, she added.
The doctors never took Ryan’s blood to determine the cause of the seizures, Angela Martin said. But, Ryan’s mother wonders if tests would have been inconclusive anyway, since having tests taken during the seizure gave the best indication of what was going on.
Congenital hyperinsulinism is a very rare disease affecting one in 25,000 to 50,000 babies, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, website, which is where Ryan was finally treated.
First, the ambulance took him to Norwalk Hospital. After his ambulance ride to Norwalk, Ryan then made a stop at Yale New Haven before finally ending up at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Since he has been treated, Ryan has not been experiencing seizures.
“Since most children’s hospitals encounter only one or two cases” of congenital hyperinsulinism a year, “it is important to receive medical care from an experienced treatment center,” the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s website states.