St. Petersburg nurse working side-by-side with medical professionals who saved her as a child

Hannah Ryan is passionate about making an impact on people’s lives. The Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital nurse's compassion comes from a place of personal experience.

In 2006, 10-year-old Hannah was playing in a softball game when she started struggling to breathe. She was transported to the intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, diagnosed with MRSA pneumonia in both lungs.

"My fingers turned purple, my lips turned purple," recalled Ryan. "My parents took me back to the emergency room, they took x-rays again, said I had full-blown pneumonia."

Dr. James Quintessenza, the hospital's chief of pediatric cardiac surgery, remembers what they had to do to keep little Hannah alive.

"Her lungs were not working well enough to let her survive and so we had to put her on mechanical support which is called VV-ECMO," Dr. Quintessenza explained.

Nurse Hannah Ryan was once a patient, herself.

"I was intubated, on a ventilator, on a bunch of extra life support machines," Hannah added.

She was barely alive.

Ryan spent about 30 days on life support and a total of four months at the hospital, the entire time surrounded by a team of medical staff.

"Not only were they caring for me medically, but mentally and emotionally as well," said Ryan. "I remember them joking with me, making me smile."

It was that extra care and support which inspired the now-24-year-old to become a nurse.

After earning her nursing degree, Ryan found herself back at the same hospital, completing a yearlong pediatric RN residency program. 

"I love the connection I get to have with patients because I know what it’s like to be sick, and I know what it’s like to be in that hospital bed," she said.

Nurse Hannah Ryan

Ryan found herself working and learning side-by-side with the nurses and doctors who saved her life.

"Just really a great surprise to see somebody that you took care of who now has chosen this kind of walk of life because of the impact that was made on her life, and she wants to do the same thing for others," Quintessenza said.

Nurse Ryan now works with those who helped save her as a kid

Ryan's life was turned upside down, but it led to her true direction.

"Being able to become a nurse and work at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, it kinda made my life come full circle, and maybe this was why it happened to me because now I get to give back," she added.

She plans to get her critical care registered nurse certification and hopes to become a traveling pediatric nurse.