Praying for little Roan

$79,373 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 1,146 people in 14 months
Created July 25, 2017
On July 24th, just two weeks after he turned 3, Roan was critically injured in a horrific accident involving a riding lawn mower. Roan was raced to the nearest hospital an hour away from his home, then immediately transferred to the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU where he remains in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

Roan's injuries are extensive and life-altering. His right foot was amputated and he is missing a large part of his right forearm from elbow to wrist.  Right now his right hand is alive and as long as it stays healthy, the doctors hope to be able to save it.  Regardless, he is expected to have severe nerve damage and will need prosthetics to walk.

Roan has already undergone three surgeries with another major reconstructive surgery expected in the coming days.  He faces a very long road ahead with more surgeries, rehabilitation, prosthetics and therapies.

Roan’s family faces fast-mounting medical bills to get little Roan on the road to recovery.  As stressful as this situation continues to be, Roan's mother Melissa is due to give birth to her and husband Sean’s fourth child at any time. Melissa herself faces recovery time as well as the constant needs of a newborn, and those of their 1 year old daughter, Liv and 6 year old son, Colin.

We do not know how much this is going to cost but we know that this tragedy will be financially catestrophic for Sean and Melissa. ANY donation amount, be it large or small, is SO GREATLY appreciated and will help ease the burden for the family during Roan’s long and intensive recovery.

Thank you for the outpouring of love and well-wishes we have received so far.  Please continue to keep Roan and his mother, father and siblings in your thoughts and prayers. We will provide updates as they come.

More about Roan:

Roan has always been an active and curious little boy who revels in exploring the outdoors and shares great enthusiasm for monster trucks with his older brother, Colin. When he's not playing with his brother, he likes to help feed baby Liv. He loves sleeping in. Roan also loves spending time with his grandparents, uncles and two aunties, including "Shell" and Mia. 

We are updating Roan's progress every day, so please check back for the latest.

#TeamRoan

If you would like to make a private donation, please email teamroansullivan@gmail.com
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A few weeks ago Melissa, Roan and I appeared on a segment for the CBS daytime talk show The Doctors to share his story and discuss lawn mower safety.

With physical therapy and the love and support from everyone around him, Roan's doing so great these days.

Here's a link to the segment where we discuss the accident and help raise awareness for lawn mower safety.

https://www.thedoctorstv.com/articles/4682-parents-of-child-run-over-by-lawnmower-share-heartbreaking-story
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Thanksgiving Day Update:

Today is a matchless and prescient Thanksgiving. I have celebrated none more monumental than this one. I have had much to be thankful for in years past, but the gratitude I feel today is new and more far-reaching than ever before. This new solemn sense comes from an experience and depth that I have never encountered. I almost lost everything— my most cherished anything. I almost lost my baby boy. My family has been to the edge of unfathomable sorrow, we are on our journey back. This truly is a special Thanksgiving, today I am thankful for miracles.

I am thankful Roan is alive.

He was dying in his mother’s arms from an accident that I am responsible for. He was in so much pain and ripped to shreds. He was so broken, I didn’t know if he was going to make it. In the rush to the hospital, Melissa and I were panicked. He was so hurt that in the briefest of moments, I thought it was too late. I watched him go. For an instant, I thought he wasn’t going to make it and that I needed to hold him. I wanted to hold him while he was still here… He was crying, screaming, and then he whimpered, and then he stopped. I watched him fade. I wondered if I should stop driving, pull over, to give up, I thought it was too late. I wanted to hold him one more time. If this was going to be his last moment, I wanted it to be in peace and to let him know how much I loved him. I thought my beautiful Roan was gone.

I prayed so hard.

It was my darkest moment. Everything slowed to an instant that is indescribably infinite.

My heart was screaming in prayer. In the car I was screaming Roan’s name. And then he started to scream again too. I didn’t slow down, I kept driving and we made it to the hospital.

I am so thankful to God for sparing my boy.

That moment was the infinite edge. It was the beginning of Roan’s miraculous recovery of which I have to give thanks.

I am thankful for the prayers on Roan’s behalf. Prayers were said in churches, temples, synagogues, and mosques. So many kept a prayer in their heart for Roan. Friends and strangers prayed for Roan at temples in India, in Taiwan, Australia, Hawaii, everywhere. Your prayers were answered and Roan is blessed. I am eternally thankful for your prayers.

I am thankful for Roan’s healers.

Roan has a vast family of surgeons, doctors, EMS technicians, therapists, nurses, and hospital staff that all have played a special part in saving his life and in his recovery. They saved him. Their dedication, sacrifice and expertise saved not only Roan’s life, but also his leg, heel and hand. His recovery is truly special. The more and more I learn about his case from his medical team the more I realize how lucky he is. I have yet to collect the causalities that led to such a blessed outcome. For now, let me be clear, had anything gone differently from the moment of the accident all the way up to this moment right now, things would be vastly different. I am forever grateful to these selfless, special healers.

I am thankful to my neighbors, my friends, my family, my colleagues, and to total strangers for the love and support given to Roan. He has come so far but has a long way to go. He is glowing. He is happy. It has been a battle to get here. Roan’s brother Adam was brought into this world in the middle of this tragedy. Welcoming little Adam was the purest of joys that helped save me during my life’s greatest sorrow. Even Adam needed to be saved! We could not have overcome these calamities alone.

One of the most remarkable things I have seen throughout all of this is the power of love. Love for one another. This has had a profound impact on my life. So many came to our rescue. Love is everywhere and everyone is loved. The totality of loving relationships is endless. I never understood or experienced the vastness of it before. No one suffers alone. All of us are connected by love in someway and when we struggle all we need to do is reach out and I promise someone will come to your aid. I am thankful for the love and kindness shared with Roan and my family when we needed it the most.

I am thankful for Melissa and for my children. Nothing is more special to Melissa than our children. Roan’s accident had a devastating impact on us. The pain is very real. There is no way to describe what it was like. I had a heightened sense of everything all while experiencing things I had never encountered. The emotions, the memories, the thoughts, the pain, and the panic I felt cannot be expressed or quantified. It just can’t. On a level from 1 to 10 how panicked was I driving to the hospital? There is no number, there is no scale! There is no way to explain or catalog the devastation of it all. The only one who could ever understand is Melissa. She is perfect to me. She pulled me through. There is no love greater or force more powerful than a mother’s love.

Lastly, I am thankful to Roan. He is such a special boy. I will always, always regret what happened. I wish more than anything that this had never happened. I would give my every limb so that he could have his. He is only 3 years old and has already experienced more pain than most would suffer in several lifetimes. His wounds are permanent and consequential. Though he has a more challenging future ahead of him, he will excel. he is the same 3 year old boy today that he would have been had all of this never happened. He is happy and loving. He’s proud of his “owies.” He has come so far. This will not stop him. He’s too stubborn and too strong. He is beautiful. He is an inspiration and a personification of everything good in life. I could not be more proud of him.

I am so grateful for so much. This Thanksgiving will always be special. Love, family, prayer, blessings, children, mothers, fathers, friends, miracles— there are countless things to be thankful for. I am thankful for all the good in life.

This Thanksgiving though, I am especially thankful to be able to open my arms wide and welcome my running, walking, smiling, high-fiving, jumping, living, loving beautiful little boy Roan for the biggest of hugs. Thank God and thank you all for this giant miracle!
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We had an eventful night last night.

Going into surgery on Tuesday, we weren’t sure how long Roan would be in the hospital. We packed and prepared to stay a week. We welcomed the news that he was doing well enough that we only had to stay the night.

Roan was discharged from the hospital around 7pm. We left and went straight to fill his prescriptions and made it home around 9pm. Roan was excited to be back home. Colin, Liv and Adam were excited that we were home too. Even though it was a school night for Colin, we let him stay up and had a small impromptu welcome home party. Just as it was returning home from his first hospital stay, coming back home this time, Roan was glowing. Home is where the heart is.

After unpacking the car and getting everyone ready for bed, I noticed Roan’s injured hand had developed serious blistering between his fingers. The hand was noticeably swollen all day Tuesday. We brought it to the attention of multiple doctors and nurses at VCU throughout the day. All agreed that the swelling was due to normal post-operational edema. I have had broken limbs, broken wrists, hurt knees and have had my fair share of serious swelling following a break or an injury that required a cast. Swelling is completely normal.

The blisters between the fingers were a new complication. I didn’t see them at the hospital before we left. Even with the development of the blisters, initially, I wasn’t concerned. I assumed that they were blistering because they were rubbing together after being swollen. But they were definitely alarming for a lot of different reasons, so I called the on-call surgeon on our discharge paperwork. I was primarily trying to figure out if I was supposed to lubricate the surface of the blisters with petroleum jelly or something similar. All we had at the house was Neosporin and I wanted to know if I could use it as a substitute. The on-call surgeon asked us to bring him back in, which surprised me honestly. I thought I was just going to get some clarification on whether Neosporin was an acceptable substitute for petroleum jelly. At that point, I had already put Roan to bed. I definitely wasn’t thinking I would have to bring him back to the hospital. I offered to send him some pictures thinking maybe seeing the blisters might be enough and maybe a hospital trip might be too much. But after seeing the pictures, the doctor confirmed we needed to bring him back to the ER.

Roan was a total trooper. He didn’t even complain once. We made it back to the hospital around 11pm. While we were checking in, the nurses at VCU measured Roan’s temperature at 101 F. That led to some worry that he might be a developing an infection which might also explain the blistering. Roan wasn’t feverish at any point post-operation. Sometimes he wraps himself in his big, white, Polar Bear blankie and gets a little too snugglie and warm. I was suspicious of the high temperature. Regardless, they wanted to get some blood work done, some cultures, and run a course of antibiotics just to be safe. His white blood cell count was elevated which isn’t abnormal following surgery but can be an indicator of infection. Roan’s orthopedic team thought that his cast might be on too tight.

Roan was admitted to the ER and the team got to work on the IV and blood work. It was hard to watch them try to find his little vein in his wrist for the IV. I forget sometimes that he’s so small since he has been through so much. They had to use a special light to find the vein. He was panicked. Sadly, none of my tricks to calm him down worked this time. He’s learned too much. He is as tough as 3 year-olds come though. As soon as they found the vein and let him rest he immediately relaxed. He was just scared.

When the orthopedic surgical team arrived, they started with conscious anesthesia. They used a sedative that wouldn’t completely put him to sleep but it would knock him out enough that he wouldn’t get upset about what was going on. As soon as they split his cast completely through, the swelling in his hand was instantly relieved. His hand had continued to develop small blisters all the way up until that point. His skin was obviously stretched; it was white and even a little shiny.

As soon as the cast was released, his hand shrank by half the size. It was a dramatic change. It looked as though surgical gloves were filled with water and then drained by half. His hand went from a glossy white color to a fleshy red. It was an immediate answer and fix to the problem. The surgeons checked underneath the rest of the cast for any other abnormalities but all checked out ok. They wrapped the cast back up in some removable ace-wrap. Successfully diagnosed and fixed.

Despite the fix, Roan was admitted back into the hospital. The floor we are normally on was too full, so we’ve been staying in the ER since we arrived. I’ve joked that Roan is trying to spend a night in every department of the hospital. We’ve made some new ER friends. Love’em!

I just want to say again just how much I love all of Roan’s caretakers at VCU. Everyone has been so completely amazing. One of his doctors mentioned that maybe they had put the cast on too tight… Nope.. In my opinion, totally not true.

Roan’s surgery went perfectly. He was recovering perfectly. His cast was beautiful. I wish everyone could have seen it up close… it was a beautiful cast. It was “bivalved,” meaning it was already cut in half to allow for the type of swelling Roan had. That was one of the confusing things that made a lot of the doctors worry about infection. The cast was made to expand; the cast shouldn’t have caused the swelling.

In the end, there was one small strip of cast at the very edge that wrapped around his fingers and between his thumb. The bivalve cut in the cast ran all the way up to this small strip. Unlike the rest of the cast, I don’t think this small strip was able to stretch with the swelling hand. I think what happened was Roan had it elevated in bed the whole day, and once on the return trip home, he was sitting upright in his car seat, thus adding the pull of gravity towards his fingers for the first time. I think that is what led to the blisters at home and not at the hospital before Roan was released.

After they cut the little strip of cast, Roan was cured. I want to emphasize, there was no way anyone could have diagnosed the swelling issue, specifically the blisters beforehand. Once there was an issue, Roan’s team knew exactly what to do. Always consult a doctor if something seems off.

Roan is doing well now. We’re still in the Pediatric ER but not out of necessity. Unfortunately, they’re busy here at the hospital. Kids are hurting. They are working miracles around here. We will most likely be here tonight but with any luck, we might get to go home again tonight.

Thank you all for your continued love and prayers…

With our love,

Sean & Melissa
Swelling and blisters after surgery
Return to hospital
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10/11/17

It has been way too long since I last sent an update. I’m sorry, we have been very busy.

Roan is doing very well. He had another surgery yesterday at VCU Medical Center (our home away from home). This was his first scheduled surgery since we were released from VCU almost a month ago. The surgery went well. They kept him overnight for observation.

The nerves look ok and responded when tested which is very good news. They successfully adjusted what remained of his Radius and fused it to his Ulna. It will be held in place with a pin and cast for 6 weeks.

He is pretty sleepy and groggy. We’re back in our old digs in the Acute Care Center.

When we left the hospital after Roan’s long stay, the plan was to let him recover at home until he was well enough for the second phase of his treatment plan. Once his skin grafts healed, his surgeons were going to suture his arm to his stomach. They originally thought he was going to need to transfer a flap of skin from his stomach to his arm. They would need this flap for future surgeries as an entry point to access his underlying tissues. As it was explained to us, skin grafts adhere to muscle and cannot be peeled back enough for them to get underneath. The skin flap surgery would have been intense; Roan would have had to stay in the hospital for at least three weeks. He would have been in a full torso cast. We were dreading it for the longest time but were ready for it.

The plan changed.

Roan’s hand surgeon (Dr. Jonathan Isaacs) is going to try to forgo the skin flap and skip straight to some reconstruction work. That is what Roan is in surgery for right now. If it goes well, Roan might not have to get the skin flap after all. They are trying to accomplish 4 things today: (1) They want to space and fuse what is left of Roan’s radius bone to his ulna. (2) They hope to transplant a tendon to his wrist that would allow Roan to pull his hand back. (3) They are assessing nerve damage to his fingers and repairing any damaged nerves that they can find. (4) They want to see how his elbow joint is healing after his initial surgeries. They need to use a special dye and x-rays to confirm if it is healing properly.

Regarding goal (1)—

Roan has about a ¼ inch of his radius bone left in his arm. The rest of the bone is completely gone all the way to the elbow. They are going to fuse the remaining part of his Radius bone to his ulna. This will give his wrist more stability but will lock his forearm preventing him from supinating and pronating (he won't be able to twist his hand back and forth from a palm up position to a palm down position). As far as we know, that will be his most severe limitation as far as his arm is concerned. He is still expected to be able to grab, flex his wrist, flex and extend his arm etc… but will have to learn to compensate with his shoulder if he wands to supinate and pronate his forearm.

Regarding goal (2)—

Roan’s tendons and muscles that are used to pull his wrist back were also lost in the accident. Today they plan to transfer some tendons to tighten up the back of his hand and wrist.

Regarding goal (3)—

Early on, Roan’s surgical team noticed he had some bruising on his nerves that command his fingers. The nerve controlling his ring and pinky fingers is of most concern. Dr. Isaacs plans to test for some neural response and hopefully repair any damage he might find. There might not be anything to fix, Roan has been improving during his physical therapy appointments. There might be something to fix, there might not be. Praying hard again…

Regarding goal (4)—

Another orthopedic hand surgeon who has worked with Roan before (Dr. Ilvy H. Cotterell) is going to use a special dye to see how his elbow joint is healing. The concern is that his ulna is not lined up correctly. He only has half of his elbow joint left so it is hard to tell. Hopefully, all is healing well.
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Roan’s been busy at home. He’s had a new orthopedic boot now for a week. He’s cruising now. A week ago he was able to walk but had a really hard time. He has been getting better using his new boot every day.
We have been going to physical therapy every day since he has been home. He is learning quickly. Every time he is getting noticeably better.

It is hard to watch him limp. It is hard to watch him try to pick things up with his hand. It is hard to see him struggle to do things that he could easily do before. Things you don’t even think about… when was the last time you were in awe of your kid climbing stairs? It is hard to watch, sad to see…

… but it really isn’t.

Seeing Roan walk again was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Seeing Roan pick up a car with his hand is a miracle. It is a Biblical level MIRACLE in my view.

Watching him climb stairs again…. Watching him do all of the small unnoticeable things again, there is nothing better.

From where he was, to where he is, truly amazing. Indescribably wonderful!

Please continue to keep him in your thoughts and prayers. More to come.

Thank you all.

Sean and Melissa
Roan's forearm X-ray
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$79,373 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 1,146 people in 14 months
Created July 25, 2017
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