Since November, 8-year-old Ryan Davis has had seven brain surgeries.
The Mentor boy been diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation -- a tangle of arteries and veins that can cause a stroke or embolism if unnoticed -- had two shunts put into his head and contracted meningitis twice.
Despite all of this, his mother Shannon Davis considers him and their family fortunate.
After all, they could have not noticed the AVM and it might have killed Ryan.
"We're actually lucky that Ryan showed symptoms," she said.
Those symptoms began in the fall when Ryan had a pair of episodes with severe headaches and vomiting. The family thought it might be a bad flu, but they took him to TriPoint Medical Center in Concord Township to be certain.
Shannon remembers the day of that first doctor's visit -- November 3. That is when the doctor spotted the AVM -- a twisted knot of arteries and veins next to Ryan's brain stem. If the knot ever burst, it could cause a stroke or even death.
Ryan was taken to Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland. Soon thereafter, he had his first of several surgeries.
The doctor was able to remove the AVM. But, unfortunately, that was not the end of Ryan's difficulties.
A few days later, doctors realized that Ryan's body was not reabsorbing his cerebrospinal fluid. Instead, it was building up in his head.
Consequently, on November 24, doctors put a shunt in Ryan to drain the liquid and decrease the pressure inside of his skull.
The next day, Ryan was diagnosed with meningitis.
"Once your body has an infection, any hardware they put in -- including the shunt -- has to come out," Shannon explained.
That meant Ryan needed another surgery to remove the shunt. Then the doctors gave him antibiotics through an IV until his meningitis cleared up.
On December 17, the doctors tried again -- putting another shunt into Ryan. Sadly, the results were the same -- another meningitis diagnosis (this time, a different strain,) another surgery to remove the shunt and another round of antibiotics.
"He's still on the antibiotics right now," Shannon said.
Ryan had his most recent surgery on Jan. 7 because the incision from his original surgery hadn't healed well and some CSF was leaking.
For the last six weeks, Ryan has been recovering at the Cleveland Clinic's Pediatric Rehabilitation Hospital at the Shaker Campus.
Shannon is hopeful that the gauntlet of surgeries are finished and that Ryan can get back to the business of being an 8-year-old soon -- playing football, riding his bike, going to school.
"He's so determined and he's such an overachiever," Shannon said of her son's recovery.
Despite all their tribulations, Ryan and his family -- which also includes father Ron and sisters Abby and Lilly -- have kept an upbeat attitude.
Shannon said the way the community has supported them has helped them stay positive.
Her coworkers at Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools donated sick days so she could spend time with Ryan. Friends, family and even some strangers have sent food to their home and gifts to Ryan's hospital bed.
"It's been an inspiration to us," Shannon said of people's charity. "I just can't believe how good people are."
Staff from the seven elementary schools in the Willoughby-Eastlake district and Orchard Hollow Elementary School, where Ryan is a student, have put together volleyball teams that will compete in the tournament.
Adult tickets cost $5; children, $2; and no family will have to pay more than $10.
The tournament will also have a bake sale and auction to raise money. All proceeds from the event go directly to the Davis family.
For more on Ryan Davis, you can visit his family's Facebook page, this Wordpress blog or this site with information on the Ryan Davis Benefit Fund.