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Ryan Punsalan

Ryan Punsalan

When Ryan was two-and-a-half-months old, he became very sick. His pediatrician sent him home with antibiotics, but he soon ended up in the emergency room. The family soon discovered that Ryan had E. coli bacterial meningitis and an immunodeficiency condition, but his doctors in Hawaii were unable to help him. So the Punsalans were soon on their way to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center and Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House to find hope for Ryan.

Doctors in Cincinnati diagnosed Ryan with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), a genetic condition that suppresses the immune system and keeps it from fighting off infections. He needed a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, they could not find a match and Ryan’s only hope was a research study on gene therapy. 

Doctors soon began gene therapy in which the defective gene was replaced with the correct gene in his bone marrow. The first attempt was unsuccessful, but no one was giving up on Ryan. So doctors tried the gene therapy a second time, but this time, they also gave Ryan small doses of chemotherapy. It will be four to six months before we know if it was successful. Ryan is living at our House while he recovers and has follow-up exams at the hospital. Most of the time, he stays in his room because his immune system is still extremely fragile. His mother, Rosy, has turned their room into a beautiful nursery where he can be surrounded by his family and all of his favorite toys. And occasionally, he rides his tricycle around our House and engages in one of his favorite activities – borrowing books from our library.    

Tears come to Rosy’s eyes when she thinks of everything our House has done for her family, and where she might have been without your support. She says:

The House truly is our ‘home away from home.’ I get so emotional just talking about it.  Without it, we would have been completely alone. But this House has provided us with love and support and has helped us tremendously by providing a bed to sleep in, as well as home-cooked meals and transportation. It has taken away a lot of the stress.  Everyone has been so friendly and we are incredibly thankful.