Breath of Fresh Air: Will's Story

Will Lyons | Doylestown Health

Will Lyons was 17 when he experienced shortness of breath. His pediatrician suspected bronchitis, but when a breathing treatment did not improve Will's symptoms, his doctor sent him to Doylestown Hospital for a chest x-ray.

"Will's x-rays showed that one lung was totally collapsed, the other, partially collapsed," recalls Will's father, Tim. "The x-ray technician walked us to the Emergency Department, and Will was quickly admitted to Doylestown Health's Della Penna Pediatric Center."

Diagnosis: Spontaneous Pneumothorax

Though Will is now a healthy Penn State freshman, his father, Tim, recalls how concerned they were that day, and how the personalized care they received at Doylestown Health helped them through a challenging time.

"The doctors and nurses helped to alleviate our concerns, explaining that spontaneous pneumothorax (collapsed lung) is fairly common in tall, thin teenagers, especially boys.

Will would require surgery, which could be performed by Doylestown Health's fellowship-trained cardiothoracic surgeon, James McClurken, MD.

"We were given the option of going to a Children's Hospital, but my wife works at Doylestown Health, so we knew of Dr. McClurken's excellent reputation. We felt comfortable at Doylestown Hospital and liked being close to home."

Treatment Options

Some patients require observation only, or a tube inserted between the ribs into the chest cavity to release unwanted air.

Will's case was more complex. Dr. McClurken performed video-assisted thorascopic surgery (VATS). Inserting a tiny camera and instruments through small incisions, he viewed the surgical field on a monitor display as he repaired Will's lungs.

"He fixed the fully collapsed lung, with the understanding that he would reevaluate the other lung after the first surgery," says Tim. A few weeks later, the Lyons were not surprised to learn that Will would need surgery on his other lung.

Exceptional Care with a Personal Touch

"The nurses got to know our family and did everything possible to make Will comfortable, from getting a bigger bed to accommodate his height to setting up video games to keep him occupied," says Tim. "Instead of sitting at the nurses' station, I'd find Will's nurse sitting at his bedside."

Helping Young Patients Cope

"Our nurses and board-certified pediatric hospitalists work hand in hand with families," says Kristina Elmer, RN, BSN, pediatric nurse clinical manager. "It's important to us to help our patients through their experience. We let friends visit and have lots of toys and activities to keep them occupied."

"Will had been in the hospital for over a week, and I could tell it was wearing on him," recalls pediatric nurse Michelle Joseph, RN, BSN. So, when his dad mentioned that Will really missed his dog, Millie, Michelle arranged a special visit.

"Will was completely surprised when Millie walked into his room. His face lit up and he started talking and laughing," says Michelle.

About Doylestown Health's Della Penna Pediatric Center

The Carol and Louis Della Penna Pediatric Center offers expert inpatient care for children of all ages, close to home. Our unit provides a personalized, family-centered environment and is staffed by board-certified pediatric hospitalists and experienced pediatric nurses.

"Our pediatric unit treats infants and children up to the 18th birthday, and sees a range of diagnoses, including other upper respiratory illnesses like asthma and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus)," says Kristina.

Conditions Treated:

  • Appendicitis
  • Concussion
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Elevated bilirubin
  • Gastrointestinal conditions
  • Minor fracture/sports injuries
  • Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)
  • Orthopedics
  • Pain management
  • Respiratory problems
  • Other health conditions

About Pediatric Services

Doylestown Health is an independent, not-for-profit, clinically integrated network of care committed to providing family-centered children’s services for the youngest members of our community. Our Della Penna Pediatrics along with our VIA Maternity Center offer maternity care, labor and delivery, neonatology, and perinatology services. We also have broad capabilities in pediatric diagnostic testing, and deliver comprehensive pediatric care throughout our outpatient practices, our Emergency Department at Doylestown Hospital, and Urgent Care on Swamp Road.  

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