Mom credits sitters with saving daughter’s life
Denise Hacket talks with Shaila Sweders while playing with Ryan Sweders, one of her charges at the day care her and her husband, Paul, operate in Glenview on Wednesday, Aug. 22. The Hackets swift action saved Ryan's life. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 31, 2012 7:46AM
GLENVIEW — It was like any other typical weekday morning the day Skokie mom Shaila Sweders dropped off her 4-month-old baby daughter Ryan at “All God’s Children” day care center in Glenview.
But by that afternoon Sweders found herself facing every mother’s nightmare scenario when her baby suddenly fell critically ill.
Sweders, 27, has known Paul and Denise Hackett — a Glenview couple who runs a small day care center out of their home at 1206 Longmeadow Drive — since she was a child living in Glenview and going to school at St. Catherine School where the couple worked.
When she went back to work after having her first baby four months ago, she began bringing Ryan to their day care center.
Ryan seemed to be in perfect health when Shalia left her with the Hacketts the morning of June 7, but several hours later she received an alarming phone call from Denise.
Ryan had woken up from her afternoon nap short of breath before becoming nearly unresponsive minutes later. By the time paramedics arrived moments later, the tiny baby started turning blue and went into respiratory failure.
While Denise called Sweders and waited at the day care center for her to arrive, Paul rode in the ambulance with Ryan to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and stayed by the baby’s side.
When Sweders arrived at the hospital she was told Ryan had septic shock, a life-threatening condition caused by bacteria that can result in organ failure and death. Doctors inserted a breathing tube down her throat because she was unable to breathe on her own. They also started emergency procedures in an effort to save the baby’s life.
“I made the decision to stay in the emergency room while doctors operated on her, and for a while it was complete chaos,” Sweders said. “Then suddenly everyone — all the doctors and nurses in the room — got very quiet, and that was the scariest moment in my life because everything just stopped.”
Sweders remembers the fear and helplessness she felt when she saw how much pain her baby was in with the tube.
“To see your baby sit there screaming in pain but no voice was coming out because of the breathing tube was painstaking,” Sweders said. “All I wanted to do was hear her cry, but the important thing was that she was alive.”
Despite fears of the worst, Ryan proved to be one tough baby and pulled through. She spent 11 days in the hospital before going home with her parents again.
The mortality rate of septic shock is high — up to 50 percent — and doctors told Sweders that only one in three babies survive.
Unbeknownst to Sweders or the Hacketts, Ryan had contracted pneumonia, which led to her blood being poisoned by an infection. Since there were no obvious symptoms that anything was wrong, Sweders had no reason to believe her baby was sick. When she saw the chest X-ray, she was shocked to see the massive infection that had invaded her daughter’s lungs.
“She never showed one symptom of pneumonia and doctors said she had no immune deficiencies so it really was a shock that this could have happened,” Sweders said.
Doctors said that if Ryan had been taken into the hospital 30 minutes later it likely would have been too late to save her life.
Sweders said she owes Ryan’s life to the Hacketts’ quick thinking. Without hesitating, Denise called paramedics, and together with Paul they tried everything they could to keep the baby awake before paramedics arrived.
“It got so serious so fast and without them (the Hacketts) I don’t know if she would have been saved,” Sweders said. “There’s no price you can put on something like this and I just want people to know how amazing these people are.”