Dempster visits ‘22q syndrome’ patients in Atlanta

While in Atlanta with his Chicago Cubs, pitcher Ryan Dempster will spend time with children who have 22q11.2 deletion syndrome and their parents, of which he is one.

Dempster’s 3-year-old daughter, Riley, was 4 days old when diagnosed with the genetic disorder commonly known as 22q or DiGeorge syndrome. It’s caused by the deletion of a small piece of chromosome 22, and can cause a wide range of problems including heart defects, issues with breathing, the gastrointestinal tract, immune and endocrine systems, the palate, growth rate and learning disabilities.

“It affects kids differently,” Dempster said. “There’s 186 symptoms, so some kids could have three or four things and some could have a hundred things. It’s a genetic disorder, so there’s no cure. We were lucky we found out she had it when she was 4 days old, versus finding out like some parents when their kid is 3 years old or 5 years old. That’s kind of what we’re trying to promote, early diagnosis so at least the parents have a plan.

“We knew early, so we knew to start on her speech and start on her immune system, making sure things were right.”

Riley Dempster could not swallow for nearly the first two years of her life.

“She’s 3 now. She’s doing awesome,” Dempster said. “She’s tiny, because it’s hard for her to keep weight on; she’s got an overactive metabolism, things like that. But her big thing at first was she couldn’t swallow at all. She had a feeding tube and a trach. She doesn’t have any of those now. She swallows and eats everything on her own, eats what her brothers and sisters eat.”

Dempster hosted children with 22q and their families at Monday night’s series-opening game against the Braves at Turner Field. Braves catcher Brian McCann helped him set up the event.

“McCann said he’d help me out, just to bring more families together,” Dempster said. “I’m just one parent. I’m not going to change the world. The more parents that talk about it, the better it is for them. We have these events and parents will say, ‘I’ve never met another parent with a kid who has this.’ And all of a sudden they’re meeting 100 other parents and realizing there’s a big community of kids who have this. It’s the second-most common syndrome, behind Down syndrom. It’s also one of the most undiagnosed.”

Dempster had a similar event for families last season when the Cubs visited Atlanta. There are major 22q clinics and research centers run in the city at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University Medical Center.

On Tuesday morning, Dempster will visit 22q patients the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.

The veteran right-hander has also been among several pitchers the Braves have considered trading for before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Dempster, 35, is currently on the 15-day disabled list recovering from a strained lat muscle, but he threw off the bullpen mound Monday without incident and could be activated soon.

Dempster’s 3-3 record is not indicative of his strong performance in 12 starts. Before his injury he ranked among major league leaders with a 2.11 ERA and 1.025 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).

11 comments Add your comment

Mike Lum

July 2nd, 2012
7:13 pm

Great job, Ryan Dempster. As always, nice assist by McCann.

G'Vegas Dawg

July 2nd, 2012
7:28 pm

Class act!! Wren can take notes from Danny Ferry. Get Dempster in a braves uni ASAP!

G'Vegas Dawg

July 2nd, 2012
7:28 pm

Class act!! Wren can take notes from Danny Ferry. Get Dempster in a braves uni ASAP!

Oscar

July 2nd, 2012
8:31 pm

Do you mean 4 months old instead of 4 years?

Michelle

July 2nd, 2012
9:03 pm

What a wonderful spokesman for this community. As the mother of a DiGeorge Angel (my son passed at 18-1/2 months) it’s great to hear that others are trying to get the word out, too…I had never heard of DiGeorge when Cody was diagnosed, now I know so many families. GREAT JOB!!!

jarvis

July 2nd, 2012
9:26 pm

Ryan Dempster is a great pitcher and a better person. Braves would be lucky to have him.

space monkey

July 3rd, 2012
10:03 am

We desperately need Dempster on this team. It would be so nice to have a pitcher who can throw strikes and miss bats.

Dawg Haus

July 3rd, 2012
11:33 am

What a class act! I hope Dempster likes his time in Atlanta, because we sure could use him this season.

Josh Jacobs

July 3rd, 2012
2:28 pm

My daughter Riley (21 months old, diagnosed in the first couple of days after birth) is a 22q patient and we were at the event last night at Turner Field. Many many thanks to so many folks, but here are the ones that I’ll remember in no particular order:

1) Ryan Dempster – spent over an hour with us families and didn’t just sign autographs/take pictures, took his time answering questions and getting to know the families, asking about the kids and even their siblings; what him, his wife and family and the foundation is doing is incredible – without their website, the first couple of weeks would have been nearly impossible to get through (they were tough as it was, but knowing that there were other families and people going through these issues with you and them all sharing their stories and things that have worked for them was invaluable)

2) Brian McCann – he was starting at catcher last night in almost 100 degree weather, getting dropped due to a unfortunate season long slump and he comes and visits about an hour before game time….there aren’t enough words for him as a person; he spent as much time as he could signing autographs and taking pictures then went out and put on the ‘tools of ignorance’ for 9 innings, just a great deed and he has now become my families favorite Brave!!!

3) The Atlanta Braves – they donated space, security, their Homer mascot, and I’m sure other unseen things for this event and I couldn’t be prouder of the team for opening up to do something like this for an opposing player’s foundation

4) The Dempster Family Foundations’ Volunteers and Workers – without them none of the great events, websites, or information gets done; they do a great job and don’t get thanked enough for raising the awareness about a syndrome that is certainly not in the spotlight

Thank you all for a wonderful night and a great foundation.

The Jacobs (Riley, Zoey, Michele, Josh, RoseMary, Tim)

Josh Jacobs

July 3rd, 2012
2:29 pm

Sorry – the website for the foundation, which wasn’t in the article for some reason, is here: http://dempsterfamilyfoundation.org/

Josh Jacobs

July 3rd, 2012
3:09 pm

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