Ryan’s Story

A lot of things went wrong for Ryan Anderson to end up at the emergency department, but a lot of things had to go right for him to make it out.

Grateful for Experience 

“Down, set, hut!”

April 25, 2015. It was a typical Saturday on the field for 23-year-old semi-professional football player, Ryan Anderson. Never did he imagine he wouldn’t wake up just 48 hours later.

Ryan threw a pass during a game when a hard tackle left his leg in pain. After visiting a local hospital, Ryan learned he suffered simple fibula and tibial fractures – a painful, yet treatable injury he was confident he could overcome. Ryan was discharged and made his way back to his hometown, Grants Pass, Ore., with his family just 24 hours later.  

On Monday, Ryan never woke up. His skin was blue. His father dialed 9-1-1.

When Ryan arrived at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center, the care team immediately determined his condition was critical. Luckily, experienced emergency doctor, Dr. Greg Owens, quickly diagnosed Ryan with a very rare condition called fat embolism syndrome (FES). This condition put Ryan into congestive heart failure, and the care team swept into quick action to save his life.  

Dr. Owens determined Ryan needed a specialized, life-saving treatment called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) – a technique that uses a pump to circulate blood outside of a patient’s body to give their heart and lungs a chance to rest. He promptly contacted the only mobile ECMO unit team in the U.S. that treats adults.

Over the next three weeks, Ryan laid in a coma. Together, his family members worked with care teams to keep their son alive. Ryan’s father recalls that he would speak to Ryan during the weeks he was unconscious, and that Ryan smiled in response. These powerful moments gave his family hope.

During the process, his parents made the tough decision to amputate his left leg due to the damage from FES and trauma to his limb.

When Ryan woke up on May 14, he says he had a new perspective. He recalls feeling humbled. He compared his life-altering situation to other patients suffering much worse battles in the ICU, and to close friends that had recently passed. Ryan was grateful.

Ryan attributes his life to Asante Three Rivers Emergency Department’s speedy diagnosis, vast experience and profound compassion.

“I received second-to-none care at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center. That’s phenomenal in a small community like this. It’s very impressive – I am forever grateful for that and the team’s action to save my life.”


“There is incredible power in doing good. The golden rule should be more than a rule – it should be a purpose.”

—Gene Pelham, Rogue Credit Union