9th grader recovering from meningitis: Dillon McTopy draws strength from community’s prayers

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, October 30, 2019

LAPLACE — On Sept. 23, St. Charles Catholic ninth grader Dillon McTopy came home from football practice and told his mother his hearing was muffled. The next day, he had a pounding headache and said his helmet felt too tight. When Bridgette Ivey touched her son’s forehead, she felt a burning fever.

Seven days and several doctor’s appointments later, Dillon was admitted to Children’s Hospital in dire condition. A spinal tap diagnosed him with meningitis, with inflammation impacting his brain and the entirety of his spinal cord.

Dillon remained in critical condition on a breathing machine for weeks as his lungs collapsed and his kidneys failed. Against all odds, he is now stable and regaining strength in his legs through neuro rehab.

During his first day of rehab on Monday, he walked 40 feet with a walker.

While there is still a long road ahead, Dillon’s family said the recovery has been nothing short of a miracle, fueled by the continuous prayers and tremendous support of friends and strangers alike.

“The doctors are astounded that he has the use of his arms and his lungs. All of that has come back so quickly,” Ivey said. “We have to work with the movement of his legs. We are very hopeful and trusting that Jesus is going to fully heal him.”

According to Ivey, doctors at Children’s had never seen this kind of comeback from a patient whose entire spinal cord was affected. Doctors have run every test that they can think of, and they have not determined what caused Dillon to contract meningitis.

However, there was no doubt something was wrong. Dillon, an all-around positive kid who loves to laugh and tell jokes, wasn’t his normal upbeat self when he got sick. Even now that he is recovering, there are still some days where he feels somber.

Sunday was one of those days. That night, his mother handed him inspirational cards created just for him from his St. Charles Catholic Comets family. He fell asleep reading the cards and woke up the next morning feeling ready to take on the day.

SCC has prayed for his recovery since he was first admitted, and they also played a football game in his honor. A local artist who creates pieces for SCC’s chapel recently gifted Dillon a wooden plaque of the Last Supper to help lift his spirits.

“I’ve gotten support from my St. Charles family and all my friends,” Dillon said. “People I don’t even know have reached out to be and told me they are praying for me. It was very touching.”

After being in a hospital bed for a month, Dillon knows the value of the little things in life. Being able to walk independently and enjoying fresh air are just two examples.

“What I can take away from this experience is that I’m never going to take anything for granted,” he said.

Neuro rehabilitation may take about a month, although the process is different for everyone.

“He is progressing fast,” Ivey said. “It was indeed a miracle that he is where he is today. I believe all the community and all the prayers got him where he is today.”

St. Charles Catholic Principal Courtney Millet visited Dillon late last week and was happy to see he is doing much better.

“Dillon is a great young man and student,” Millet said. “We can’t wait to have him walking the halls of SCC soon!”

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