Never Asks "Why Me?" - A Spinal Cord Surgery Success Story

Patrick Bleser

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Patrick Bleser plays cymbals for the Alter High School pep band. He is the one jamming on the electric guitar for their marching band. He is a future automobile engineer, and volunteers with Incarnation Church and with its Youth Group projects. But one thing Patrick wouldn’t be described as by peers is a 16 year old with medical problems.

Patrick was born in 1994, 15 minutes after his twin sister, Elise, and from the beginning of his life, his health conditions have been a constant battle. He was taken into spinal cord surgery only a few hours after birth for myelomeningocele, a birth defect in which the spine and spinal cord do not completely form, and he spent the majority of his first two weeks in the Dayton Children’s regional newborn intensive care unit (NICU).

At three days old, he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and received a cerebral shunt to drain excess fluid from his brain. Three years later Patrick’s parents noticed his eyes crossing, and he underwent eye surgery.

Patrick’s myelomeningocele prevents control of his bladder and bowels, an issue no child wants to face around friends and schoolmates.  Since the age of four, he has been catheterizing himself every three hours to empty his bladder.   But in 2004 Patrick had a life-changing surgery called a Malone performed by Donald Nguyen, MD, medical director of urology at Dayton Children’s.  Dr. Nguyen made an incision in Patrick’s abdomen and connected his appendix to the back side of the belly button, which allows him to manage his bowels. 

Patrick has spent the last 16 years in and out of Dayton Children’s for vast medical issues and has been through eight surgeries, but you wouldn’t know it talking to him. Instead of letting health issues dictate his life, Patrick is as active as possible to get the most out of each and every day. This positive mindset is why he has been chosen as a Dayton Children’s ambassador.

“Patrick’s been through multiple medical challenges, most recently kidney stones, but he’s never said ‘Why is all this happening to me?’” says Dr. Scott Bleser, his father. “He’s never complained about being unlucky.  He just is a go-with-the-flow kind of kid who loves getting involved.”

Although his life has had its fair share of hardships, Patrick doesn’t spend time worrying about himself. Instead, he is devoted to helping others in need. As part of his youth ministry at Incarnation Church, Patrick volunteers with St. Vincent DePaul. He also spends time working fundraisers for Incarnation’s Youth Group and Alter High School’s music programs.

In addition to volunteering, Patrick has embodied leadership values by attending the National Catholic Youth Conference in 2009. This dedication to service and leadership will help him in his role as an ambassador for Dayton Children’s.

“He almost jumped out of his skin he was so excited about being chosen for the ambassador position,” Dr. Bleser says. “He was thrilled and is eager to do whatever he can to help out. He has had a wonderful experience at Dayton Children’s and is ready to give back to the people who have helped him throughout his life.”

In the future, Patrick hopes to attend the University of Cincinnati for an engineering degree with a focus on automobile design. In addition, he aspires to pursue the musical passions that he, Elise and his older brother Mitchell share. Despite years of health complications, Patrick is excited for a bright future, is ready to face any challenges that may come and is eager to help other patients at Dayton Children’s do the same.



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