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Ella Dyer

No one would call a stroller collapse a fortunate incident. But for 2-1/2-year-old Ella Dyer, a seemingly innocent bump on the nose led to early treatment of a potentially serious medical condition - and her father’s musical thank you to Riley Hospital for Children.

After Ella and her twin sister Emma tumbled from their stroller in May 2009, their parents, Logan Dyer and Sarah Karim, thought the mark on Ella’s nose was a bruise. But the little red bump kept growing. Her concerned parents took Ella to the emergency room at their hospital in Evansville and then to an ear, nose and throat specialist. A CT scan confirmed missing bone and a saclike growth called a dermoid cyst.

An MRI through Deaconess Riley Children’s Specialty Center in Evansville revealed that the growing cyst had pushed toward Ella’s brain. Faced with their daughter needing pediatric neurosurgery, the family drove to Indianapolis a day before their appointment with a surgeon.

Ella’s cyst ruptured that night at the hotel. Unfamiliar with the city and panic-stricken that the break would open Ella’s brain to infection, Logan called an ambulance to take her to the Riley Hospital emergency room. “At that point, we didn’t know if the situation was life-threatening,” Sarah recalls. 

Within days, Ella underwent surgeries to remove the cyst from two directions. Pediatric otolaryngologist Bruce Matt, M.D., worked first through an “H”-shaped incision across her nose. Then pediatric neurosurgeon Laurie Ackerman, M.D., accessed Ella’s frontal lobe through a wavy incision from ear to ear across the top of her head. 

“She was blind for 24 hours, and that was the worst part of it for me,” Sarah says. “But she didn’t miss a beat. She was released from the hospital four days later, and we went to dinner on the way home.” 

Ella was “all clear” at her one-year follow-up, and her facial scar is fading. “You wouldn’t really even know it’s there unless you got up close,” Logan says.

“She’s the coolest little cucumber ever,” Sarah adds. “Miss Cool” wears pink strap-on sunglasses around the house, totes a purse and loves dressing up in big shoes. “I’m worried about when she’s 16,” her mother laughs.

Logan is a talented musician who plays saxophone and several other instruments, gives private lessons, and works as a woodwind and brass repair technician. Last fall, he organized a concert to benefit Riley Hospital and is planning an even bigger one in September. He has contacted potential sponsors, and local music stores are helping him promote the family friendly event.

“I hope it will keep growing every year,” he says. “I feel like I should give back for what Riley did for Ella - they saved my daughter’s life.”

While he’s practicing, two little girls are underfoot and making music, too - blowing raspberries on their hands in pretend trumpet practice.