FLORISSANT, Mo. (KSDK) - Lunchtime at the Smith house means much of the same for little Ryker. On this day, it's chicken and grapes, two of only four of Ryker's "safe" foods.
"Potato, chicken, grape and apple," said mom, Darcy Smith. Add in 32 ounces of special formula and that is what keeps Ryker going.
His frightening journey started when he was about 6-months-old and his first solid food, rice cereal. He got so sick his mom took him to the hospital. Doctors blamed his vomiting on a stomach bug. The family let Ryker take a break on solid food for a few weeks. When they tried again, it happened again. And again, doctors said it must be a bug.
What followed were the most frightening days of young Ryker's life. He was at the babysitter's house when Darcy got the call that something was very wrong. In ten minutes, he had gone from his happy, normal self to an extremely sick boy.
"He wasn't there. He was as white as a ghost and lethargic and not responsive to me, not responsive to pain," said Darcy.
They called 911. An ambulance took Ryker to the closest hospital. When he got there, he was in complete shock. Doctors made the call to airlift him to St. Louis Children's Hospital, a medical helicopter to take the baby less than 20 miles.
"I remember asking if it could have been something he had eaten and they said no. No baby's allergic to rice cereal. It's so uncommon," says Darcy.
A few days later, Ryker was sent home with instructions that if it happens again, he should be taken to the closest emergency room.
As Darcy was talking to her best friend and occasional babysitter about their experience, her friend had an idea. She asked Darcy if she could call her right back. When she did, she told Darcy she thought she might know what was wrong. She suggested the family ask Ryker's doctor about FPIES, food protein induced enterocolitis syndrome. In basic terms, it is a severe allergic reaction.
But, that wasn't all. Not long after he was diagnosed with FPIES, he was also diagnosed with eosinophilic colitis, which is a completely different kind of allergic reaction in the gut. The rare combination means Ryker needs a feeding tube in his stomach. His family says experts know of only one other child in the country with bothFPIES and eosinophilic colitis.
Even with the feeding tube, Ryker's severe allergic reactions mean he can't do the things most kids can do. Mom says he has only been to the playground once or twice.
That is all about to change. Dixie is an almost 2-year-old golden retriever. She's not just any dog. She is anAngel Service dog and is part of an intensive training program in Colorado.Angel Service dogs are not like most service dogs. They also are not like most detection dogs. Allergy dogs are a combination of both.
Dixie will alert Ryker and his family of dangers they can't see, like residue from rice, peanuts and tree nuts left behind on a playground. Her training doesn't come cheap.
From a rummage sale to poker night and more than a dozen other fundraisers, friends, neighbors and strangers are helping the Smith family collect more than $16,000 for Dixie.
For more on Ryker's story and to donate, visit Ryker's story at Angel Service Dogs or the Rally for Ryker Facebook page.
Rally for Ryker fundraiser dates:
- Thursday, May 23, 2013: 54th Street Grill, 2895 Lindbergh/North Highway 67, Florissant
- Friday, May 31, 2013: Saint Sabina Trivia Night
- Tuesday, June 4, 2013: Leo's Pizza Night, Jacksonville, IL
- Saturday, June 8, 2013: Quarter Auction and Band Benefit, Garner's Archery, Roodhouse, IL
- Sunday, June 9, 2013: Gettemeier's, 1740 Thunderbird Avenue, Florissant, MO
- Thursday, June 13, 2013: Quarter Auction, Jacksonville, IL
- Saturday, June 15, 2013: Trivia Night at Florissant Presbyterian Church