Toddler in coma at Primary Children’s after family flees Hurricane Harvey

Utah

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Parker Dollinger, age 3, has been put into a medically induced coma. His family fled Beaumont, Texas ahead of Hurricane Harvey. | Courtesy of Amber Dollinger

LAYTON, Utah — As the due date for Amber and Ryan Dollinger’s second son approached, so did Hurricane Harvey.

The family evacuated from their home in Beaumont, Texas on Aug. 31 and arrived the next day in Layton, where Amber is from and where her family members still live.

Amber gave birth to her son John on Sept. 5. The family planned to return to Texas earlier this week.

But on Sunday, Amber and Ryan’s son, Parker, age 3, started having health problems. He woke up in the middle of the night screaming and crying, so they took him to Primary Children’s Hospital.

Parker has been in a medically induced coma for the last few days.

“We’re just kind of taking it day by day,” Ryan Dollinger told KSL.com.

Parker was diagnosed with Sturge-Weber Syndrome when he was about 6 months old, Ryan said.

It’s a rare neurological disorder in which those diagnosed may have abnormal blood vessels on the surface of the brain, as well as the loss of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex of the brain, according to the National Institute of Health.

Another sign of the disorder is a distinctive “port wine”-colored birthmark on the face, which occurs in 3 out of every 1,000 births.

For most people diagnosed, Sturge-Weber only affects one side of the brain. But Parker’s case affects both sides of his brain, Ryan said. Parker also has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and glaucoma, Ryan said.

Right now, Parker’s situation is mostly a waiting game, according to Ryan. Doctors said earlier in the week that they might be able to take Parker out of the coma on Saturday, but that now looks unlikely.

In a Facebook Live video, Amber Dollinger said Parker’s brain had shrunk and was not getting the oxygen it needs. She said doctors told the family to prepare for Parker to pass away at any moment.

“It’s been a crazy roller coaster for our family,” she said in the video.

Parker Dollinger, age 3, has been put into a medically induced coma. His family fled Beaumont, Texas ahead of Hurricane Harvey. | Courtesy of Amber Dollinger

A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist the family with medical and travel expenses.

Ryan Dollinger said the family’s home in Beaumont has minimal damage.

Amber was scheduled to have her baby Sept. 1, but the Beaumont hospital where she had the appointment closed the day before. The city’s water system had failed and there was no running water anywhere in Beaumont, Ryan said.

They decided to head to Utah. Most of the roads leading out of Beaumont were closed, but they found a way to leave through Port Arthur and Pleasure Island, southeast of Beaumont.

“We literally had to get on an island to get out of Texas,” Ryan said.

They took a roundabout route through Louisiana and eventually got to Dallas. From there, they made their way to Utah. Thankfully, their son John waited a few more days to arrive.

“I really didn’t want to have a baby on the side of the road,” Ryan said.

Now, the family isn’t sure when they’ll be able to return to Texas.

If doctors start lightening Parker’s medications to take him out of the coma, it could trigger more seizures, Ryan said. If the seizures return, Parker will have to be put back into a coma, he said.

The family is grateful for all the support from family members and friends over the past few weeks.

“We just really appreciate all the prayers and all the support and love we’ve received,” Ryan said. “It really helps us to kind of keep our spirits up as well.”

This article was originally published by KSL.com. It is used here with permission.