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Town rallies around Montana teen battling critical illness

Posted at 11:58 AM, Nov 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-10 13:58:42-05

FRENCHTOWN – It went from allergies, to a sinus infection, to bacterial meningitis. The last few months have been a blur of emergency rooms, surgery, and antibiotics for a Frenchtown family who found themselves in the middle of a life-threatening situation.

Now their community is stepping up to help them through a long journey to recovery.

“Sinus infections. I mean, people have those,” said Ryan Compton’s mother, Beth. “But to get the bacterial meningitis, I mean, Seattle said they hadn’t seen a case in 30 years.”

It was July when 13-year-old Ryan Compton had summer allergies like so many of us do. But he got sicker and sicker in what was becoming a bit of a medical mystery. Until it wasn’t.

“And the next day we did an MRI and it showed on the report. The doctor came in and said you guys got to go, you have to go now. And so they Life-Flighted us to Seattle.”

Doctors in Seattle wasted no time in their fight against a life-threatening infection.

“They had to end up cutting his skull out and taking it out because the infection was so bad it was attacking his brain and bones, and so he was missing a good portion of his skull and it’s just been a struggle every day since.”

Ryan is home now and wears a helmet to protect his head until he’s strong enough to have a 3D-printed plastic piece to cover the part of his skull they had to remove due to the infection. He hasn’t been able to go to school yet this year, but he tries to keep busy.

“I like to do a lot of things. I go outside and play with the dog, throw a ball at her for her to play with,” Ryan said.

Beth said it’s been a constant journey of medical appointments. She hasn’t slept much since August and she’s always got a constant watch on her son. The antibiotics are hard on his body and they can only hope the infection is going away.

But in true Frenchtown form, the community is there. His football team made him a member this year and the community is holding a silent auction and dinner this weekend to help the family with travel expenses.

It’s been tough, but the Comptons are tougher.

“He has a lot of my personality and I just always smile and you just always try to look at the positive. That’s what we try,” Beth said.

The silent auction starts at 5 p.m. Saturday at Benny’s Frenchtown Club, and there are many items to be auctioned off, along with live music and food.

Money will help with travel and medical expenses as Ryan continues to recover. The family has also set up a GoFund Me page to collect contributions.

-Reported by Jill Valley/MTN News