At 3 years old, William is the bright light of his parents lives.
William Snyder’s story is in large measure a story of two young parents fierce in their advocacy of their infant son, who simply would not accept what doctors told them—parents who went from hospital to hospital, expert to expert, until they found a place and a group of physicians who would listen to them. And that was only the beginning of a harrowing journey.
Just 6 weeks old, William began experiencing seizure-like symptoms. For over a year neurological experts at two different hospitals told William’s parents that there was nothing seriously wrong with their son. But his parents, witnessing the episodes each night, could not believe them. And so they kept searching.
It took 14 months, three hospitals and numerous specialists before the cause was found. After an MRI, Dr. Edward Gratz, a Sinai pediatric neurologist, and Dr. Joseph Wiley, chairman of the Children’s Hospital at Sinai, and a pediatric hematologist/oncologist, told Lori and Ron Snyder the reason for their son’s seizures. William, only 15 months old, had a tumor the size of a tennis ball wrapped around his brain stem.
Referred by Sinai to a hospital with a pediatric neurosurgery department, William had exploratory surgery. After seeing in close detail the position and extent of the tumor, the neurosurgeons said they would not be able to remove it. William’s parents were told that their son had only a few months to live.
In that moment, in the shock of that devastating news, they remembered that they had
Dr. Wiley’s personal pager number with them. They called him and he personally made them an appointment for the next day at Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. where William endured a 12-hour operation. The tumor was out, but terrible things followed—a coma, life-threatening reactions, numerous hospitalizations. Through it all, Sinai physicians and nurses were there managing his chemotherapy, his complications.
It is 10 months since William’s intensive chemotherapy ended. Seen once each week by Dr. Wiley, he is doing well. His parents are grateful to the hospital that found the cause of his illness, that had the specialized knowledge to manage his complex case, that comforted them and understood their special fear.
“Our son would not be alive today if it weren’t for Sinai,” says Lori Snyder.
This boy, this small body, has probably endured more shocks, more pain at 3 years old than most will ever know in their lives. Looking at him as he crawls on the floor, listening to the sweet, high squeals of pleasure as he reads words from a book and plays with his train, feeling the warmth of his body, the unlimited trust and openness as he crawls into your lap, what would you hold back from him? What would you deny him? When would you give up on him?