There was a time when Megan and Sean Durrigan of Cranston, like many Rhode Islanders, would pass by Hasbro Children’s Hospital without a full appreciation of just what occurs every day within …
There was a time when Megan and Sean Durrigan of Cranston, like many Rhode Islanders, would pass by Hasbro Children’s Hospital without a full appreciation of just what occurs every day within the facility.
When they drive by the hospital now, as Megan puts it, she and her husband have a “totally different outlook” – and an enduring sense of gratitude for the difference Hasbro’s doctors, nurses, staff and volunteers make in countless lives.
“We always tell everybody that, you know, before you have children, or before you need to visit Hasbro, you kind of drive by and you look at the building and you kind of know what’s happening in there, but you don’t really think much of it,” Megan said. “You might say, ‘Oh my goodness, those poor children’ and stuff, but you don’t really think about the good that’s happening in there and the lives that are being saved in there.”
The Durrigans’ Hasbro experience began in 2015, after the birth of their first daughter, Lucia, in April of that year. Lucia was born at 35 weeks but had no health issues and did not require any time in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU.
“Everything was kind of super normal and what you would expect with a newborn,” Megan recalled.
One day two weeks after her birth, however, Lucia stopped eating. That night, she was in clear discomfort and was unable to sleep. At 4 a.m., when Lucia still hadn’t taken a bottle, the Durrigans called an on-call doctor and were told to take the infant to Hasbro’s emergency department.
Lucia had a slight fever, but tests and checks at first looked normal. The doctor then ordered a lumbar puncture – more commonly known as a spinal tap – out of what was thought to be an abundance of caution.
Minutes later, though, the seriousness of the situation escalated significantly. Lucia was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and taken to the pediatric ICU.
The Durrigans were at Hasbro for 29 days, and the experience was harrowing. Lucia’s lungs collapsed at one point, Megan said, and she was intubated and given a feeding tube. She received multiple MRIs after evidence was found she had suffered a stroke. She also received a handful of additional spinal taps.
But Lucia recovered. She was healthy upon her release from Hasbro, and while there were fears she might experience developmental or cognitive issues due to the heavy doses of antibiotics she received in the hospital, none of those have arisen to date.
“She’s perfectly healthy now, starting kindergarten this year,” Megan said proudly.
Lucia, for her part, appears to have drawn inspiration from her ordeal. Megan said her eldest daughter is now “so set on being a pediatrician” one day, although she adds with a laugh: “We’ll see if she sticks with it when she realizes how much school it is.”
Lucia’s experience would not be the family’s last at Hasbro.
Their younger daughter, Gemma, was born healthy in June 2018, but six months later, in January 2019, she had just started day care when she came home with a mild cold.
Within two or three days, the symptoms became much more serious, Megan said. Gemma had trouble breathing, and a check at the pediatrician’s office found the infant’s oxygen level was low.
The Durrigans returned to Hasbro’s emergency department, this time with their second daughter, fearful of what might be ahead. Thankfully, the situation, while serious, proved less dire than Lucia’s.
Gemma was diagnosed with RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, which Megan said is common among babies – although her daughter’s case took far more of a toll than is typical. While Gemma did require oxygen and a feeding tube during her stay at Hasbro, she soon recovered and was released. Today, she, too, is a happy, healthy young girl.
Megan said she and her husband are grateful not only for the care Lucia and Gemma received at Hasbro, but for the support their entire family received throughout their time at the facility. She recalled something as seemingly simple as volunteers, bearing muffins and coffee, following doctors as they make their morning rounds – a time when exhausted families often receive important updates on their child’s treatment, be the news good or bad.
“They really think of the whole system, so they think of the whole family when they’re caring for their patients, which is incredible,” Megan said.
She added: “The people in there are like absolutely miracle workers. They didn’t save one of my children, they saved both of them.”
Megan and Sean both teach in Providence’s schools, as a kindergarten special education teacher and a middle school science teacher, respectively.
This year, they will again take part in Hasbro’s Radiothon – a chance to share their story and offer others insight into just how vital the hospital’s work and mission are to so many in the community.
“We know how fortunate we are to not have a child with a chronic condition or disease, or cancer … These are 100 percent healthy children, but things still can happen, and it’s just amazing that we have one of the best children’s hospitals in the world just 10 minutes away from our house,” she said.
The 16th annual Hasbro Children’s Hospital Radiothon runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17. The event is traditionally held in April but was delayed this year due to the pandemic. It typically raises more than $400,000 to support the hospital’s patient care, programs and research.
The Radiothon will be broadcast on multiple radio stations, including 92 PRO-FM, Lite Rock 105, News Talk 630 & 99.7 WPRO, and Hot 106. To donate, listeners can call 1-855-999-KIDS (5437), text HASBRO to 66683 or visit hchradiothon.org.