FARRELL – Riley Simpson waited his whole life to thank UPMC Horizon nurses for saving him.

Just born on Feb. 28, his parents Meghan and Adam Simpson of Sharpsville did all the verbal praising for him.

On Monday the family held a surprise reunion with Dayna Williams, a Horizon labor and delivery nurse, and Angela Stotski, a neonatal nurse practitioner. The two nurses helped deliver Riley at Horizon’s Farrell hospital birth center.

Within minutes of Riley’s birth, both nurses spotted he had troubling symptoms.

“There were things going on we didn’t like,’’ Williams said. “His abdomen was swollen and hard.’’

After further examination the decision was made, the newborn needed help from a specialist doctor – quickly.

“We were all worried about him,’’ Stotski said.

A medical helicopter was called to fly Riley to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“We pretty much snatched him away from his mom,’’ Williams said.

Even before the call was made Meghan, who had given birth before, knew something was up as the nurses were closely scrutinizing Riley.

“Things were taking longer than usual,’’ Meghan said.

Adam was in the delivery room with his wife when hospital staff told them that their new son, less than an hour old, needed extensive examination by Children’s Hospital doctors.

“It was the scariest moment of my life,’’ Adam said. “I didn’t know what to do.’’

After a couple of days at the Pittsburgh hospital came the gut-wrenching diagnosis: Riley had embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma. That means he developed cancer before birth. In his case, it settled in the general area of his abdomen.

Rare for newborns, this type of cancer is aggressive and fast-growing, and that’s why it was crucial to intervene quickly to get Riley diagnosed and treated.

Since his birth, Riley has undergone extensive testing and treatments – which makes for long days at Children’s Hospital. In all, he’s received 16 chemo therapy treatments. Eighteen more are scheduled.

Surgery is scheduled for Monday where his entire prostate and bladder will be removed. A urosomy bag, which collects urine, will surgically be inserted. Riley’s colon and rectum are not affected.

Because of their situation, Medicaid is picking up Riley’s medical bills.

Its been a rough year for the Simpsons. Both of Meghan’s grandparents died earlier this year, and their adult daughter’s home was destroyed by fire.

Yet it was the family who generated the upbeat spirits at the reunion with Horizon’s nurses.

Riley’s type of cancer has an 80 percent survival rate. Another version would have dropped that down to 40 percent, Meghan said.

“We didn’t get the worst kind,’’ Meghan said.

And the family learned something else along the way. Doctors at Children’s Hospital marveled that the two nurses caught their baby’s symptoms.

“They said it wasn’t something that was obvious,’’ Meghan said.

And the couple wanted to deliver the nurses a personal thank you.

“They literally saved Riley’s life,’’ Meghan said. “I wanted them to know that.’’

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