Little Patients, Big Miracles: Ellyn Strother

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Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- For the Children's Miracle Network, News 12 NBC 26 is sharing the stories of families and patients who found themselves with an unexpected home away from home.

For Ellyn Strother, it's a place she'd like to call home again, but for a different reason. Her journey starts and continues at the Childrens Hospital of Georgia.

The Children's Hospital of Georgia is Ellyn Strother's past, and hopefully, her future.

"Everything happens for a reason so it would be really cool to kind of return to study what I want to do for the rest of my life at the place that really gave me a chance," former Children's Hospital of Georgia patient Ellyn Strother said.

It was a chance at a life that was at risk from the moment she was born. Ellyn came into this world in respiratory distress. She swallowed meconium, a substance babies are born with. Her doctor, Robyn Hatley, took a chance to give her one.

"With her it got to the point where we thought the benefit of ECMO outweighed the risks," Dr. Robyn Hatley said.

ECMO is a heart lung bypass machine. It helps with blood flow while taking pressure off the heart and lungs.

"We put her on ECMO, I think it was about three or four days," her doctor said.

Twenty years later and as a sophomore biology major, ECMO Patient 204 returned to these hallways.

"I knew I wanted to go into the medical field pretty much my entire life, I never wanted to do anything else. I would say around eighth or ninth grade I knew I wanted to be a doctor specifically," Ellyn said.

She specifically wants to be a pediatric surgeon, at least for now. There was one person she wanted to learn from.

"She said my name is Ellyn Strother and I was ECMO 204. And I said, I'll be darned," Dr. Hatley said.

"He not only put me on this machine that saved my life, but I also learned so much last summer that invaluable that I wouldn't have learned pretty much anywhere else," Ellyn said.

Learning what it takes to be at the Children's Hospital, treating patients just like her.

"It was kind of humbling to think that twenty years ago that's where I was. That's how small I was. And my parents really had no idea if I was even going to make it," she said.

It's safe to say Ellyn has made it, and then some.

"I do have a scar on the right side of my neck and I do have a very weak to no pulse on the right side of my neck," Ellyn said.

"Nothing ever slows her down and if it weren't for the incision on her neck you would never know," he said.

Now her check ups with Dr. Hatley are a little different. Instead of checking her vitals, he's checking on her grades. She's not battling for breath anymore, but she is battling Chemistry and Biology, next year the MCAT. She hopes to return to go to medical school at the Medical College of Georgia. She says it's her top choice for schools.

"I think people like Ellyn going into medicine will make it go in a good way," Dr. Hatley said.

It's a life in this hospital coming full circle. She plans to return to the hospital that saved her life in hopes to save countless others.

"I really think things happen for a reason and miracles happen for a reason and that's what inspired me to go into the medical field," she said.