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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

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Nick Urry (left) and Ryan Meyer Nick Urry (left) and Ryan Meyer

Friendship Leads to Heroics

Ryan Meyer’s family is spending this Thanksgiving together and grateful for their son’s fraternity brothers after he fell ill with what they initially thought was COVID-19.
By Lainie Fraser

“Nick and Drew are heroes. We will forever be grateful to them. They saved Ryan’s life.”

There is the family you’re born into, and the family you choose. For Ryan Meyer, he and both his families have a lot to be thankful for, especially during a season when some prioritize their thanks and appreciation for others. 

After being admitted to his dream college and accepted into Phi Delta Theta, a fraternity he was proud to be  part of, Meyer was loving his time at San Diego State University. Then, in July, the interdisciplinary studies junior was diagnosed with a non-cancerous brain tumor. Meyer had the tumor removed and recovered well without any complications. Three months later, he returned to his fraternity house and virtual courses as the coronavirus continued its spread across the country.

It was in October that Meyer woke up feeling ill. He texted his mom, Karen Meyer, and told her of his symptoms and said he was going to get tested for COVID-19. Not to worry, he assured her. 

“It’s not normal to have the complications I did three months after brain surgery so I thought it was COVID, especially because I had a lot of the same symptoms,” Meyer said.

Ryan Meyer returned to his fraternity house and told his housemates he would be isolating for the next few days, just to be safe.

His friend and roommate, Nick Urry, jumped in action.

“They were checking in on me every day and making sure I had what I needed,” Meyer said.

Urry describes himself as a naturally worried person and says it was just in his nature to keep an eye on his friend.

After talking with Meyer about his symptoms, Urry checked in with Drew Zioncheck, the risk management officer for the fraternity.

“Nick came and got me and said he was kind of worried about him,” Zioncheck said. “I went and checked on him and he didn’t look great but we decided to keep a close eye on him and make sure he did fine throughout the night.”

After receiving two negative COVID-19 tests Meyer continued to feel ill so Urry and Zioncheck reconsidered his symptoms. Meyer did not have a cough or a fever, though he was experiencing some motor function issues.

“I thought that was strange because that doesn’t sound like coronavirus and so my mind went straight to the brain surgery he had earlier in the summer,” Zioncheck said. 

With his condition worsening and knowing about Meyer’s recent medical history, the two decided to take him to the hospital.

“I care about everyone in our community and I would check in on any of them if I knew they were that sick,” Zioncheck said. “When I heard about Ryan, he is one of the closest friends I have in the fraternity, so it was really important to Nick and I to make sure that he was going to be okay.”

After braving a trip to a hospital amid a pandemic, the three young men learned it was worth the risk.

When they arrived at the hospital, Meyer was beginning to become incoherent. Zioncheck explained to the nurses what Meyer was experiencing and also shared his recent tumor removal. 

The doctors quickly determined Meyer had developed hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid on the brain. His doctors believe it developed after his tumor removal, but explained it is highly unusual to have it happen so long after surgery. Doctors also explained that leaving hydrocephalus untreated any longer could have resulted in permanent brain damage or become life threatening. 

Meyer was swiftly taken into surgery and had the fluid drained.

While in the hospital, Meyer’s fraternity brothers stayed in close contact with the Meyer family to offer updates and support. In response, the Meyer’s bought the house dinner as a show of gratitude for keeping their son safe.

“Nick and Drew are heroes,” Karen Meyer explained. “We will forever be grateful to them. They saved Ryan’s life.”

The house also put together a “get well” card for Meyer and helped him pack after being released from the hospital and heading home. 

He is now home with his parents and recovering, grateful for his community at SDSU, his fraternity and his chosen brothers for life.

“Knowing what we know now I am glad we did,” Urry said.

“This is just what humans are supposed to do you know look after one another and make sure everyone is okay especially in these times,” Zioncheck said. “I would put my health on the line any day of the week to make sure his health is okay.”