Cubs' Ryan Dempster Opens Up About Daughter's Medical Condition

06/10/2009 at 08:00 AM ET
Frazer Harrison/Getty

For the first month of Riley Dempster‘s life, her dad — Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster — was with her just five days. Not only was the new dad suffering through a prolonged absence from his family as he traveled with his team, he was also dealing with the added stress of Riley’s diagnosis with DiGeorge Syndrome. Born without the ability to swallow and digest food, Riley — now 10 weeks — has undergone numerous procedures to correct the condition. “Has it been rough? Yes, it’s been rougher than anything I can imagine,” Ryan, who also has a toddler son named Brady with wife Jenny, admits in a new interview with the Chicago Tribune.

“April was as miserable as I’ve ever been, being away from my wife, my son, and my daughter’s in a hospital and she’s never seen the outside of anything except an ambulance ride to and from the airport to get medically transported from Arizona to Childrens in Chicago.”

Riley currently has a feeding tube in place as she continues to undergo treatment, which involves having her glands injected with a drug that stops the production of excess secretions. “Right now she has to be suctioned, in 24-hour care,” Ryan, 32, shares. “Even when we get her home, we’re going to have nurses 24 hours a day. But it’ll be nice to have her home to see her. You don’t have to go to the hospital, and it’ll be nice for Brady to have his sister home.”

Despite the obstacles Riley will need to overcome, the Dempsters consider themselves lucky. A neonatologist in Arizona suggested that Jenny’s preterm labor was brought on by polyhydramnios, leading doctors to order a DNA test which revealed the existence of the condition. “Some kids’ parents don’t find out till they’re two years old, and they’re making up for lost ground, whereas with us, we can take the early steps to help do whatever we can for Riley’s future,” Ryan notes. “By the time she is two, hopefully she’s as normal as any other kid.”

“Thank God she’s ours. We’re fortunate, both financially and professionally, where we can make an impact on her life, and hopefully the lives of others, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

If all goes well, Riley should be home with her family by June 22nd.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Thanks to CBB reader Colleen.

— Missy

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment

PEOPLE.com reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 0 comments

cherish on

OMG. That is only the second time ive heard of digeorge syndrome. My daughter had it. And sadly passed 11 years ago, due to complications from it. I hope all goes well with his little one.

nosoupforyou on

I’m so sorry on the loss of your child.

I am a social worker and have an almost 8 year old child/client with DiGeorge on hospice right now.

cherish on

thank you. I am glad that medical technology has come so far. I know when I would even look up DiGeorge syndrome, i could not find anything on it. I am sorry to hear about the 8 year old. Hopefully, hopefully they can come up with something, that helps anybody else with this syndrome. I know I hate it.

noam on

i’ve never heard of this disease before-so sad! i hope for the best for all those affected. is it a fatal condition? or is it possible to live a regular lifespan?

Brooklyn on

I wish the whole Dempster family all the best! Hope Riley gets well soon. I love Ryan, Canada is super proud of what he’s done in the MLB.

N on

I had a child in my preschool class a couple of years back with DiGeorge Syndrom. It was very managable in his case and had been caught very early. He also had many other issues to deal with. But, had he not had all of his other complications, I am certain that the DiGeorges would not have been a problem still. I wish them all the health and healing in the world and will keep them in my prayers.

mp on

I’m not a sports fan, but I love Ryan’s comment, “Thank God she’s ours.” What a fine man. I wish the Dempsters the best, and Cherish, I’m sorry about the loss of your daughter.

cherish on

thank you.

Anne on

Noam – DiGeorge Syndrome really varies from case to case. In some cases, children have one or two small, manageable or even curable problems, and they live the rest of their life normally. In other cases, children can be severely affected. My son was born in March, and because he had a certain heart defect (truncus arteriosus) he was tested for DiGeorge, because the two are often related, however, he did not have it.

Cherish – I’m so sorry for the loss of your daughter. I lost my son this past March when he was two days old, due to complications of his heart condition. Knowing the pain of losing a child, it really breaks my heart all over again to hear of someone else in the same situation. I wish you nothing but happiness!

cherish on

Thank you anne, and my heart goes out to you too. It is so hard to lose a child. I am happy now, I have my 3 other little ones and i never forget about my daughter. I wish you happiness in your time of sorrow.

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters