From the Bench: WVU Children's Hospital Visit for BHS's Murphy Personal as Twice they Saved His Life

By Jeff Toquinto on November 26, 2017 from Sports Blog via

Long before the first snap of the game was taken Friday at Mitchell Stadium in Bluefield, Bridgeport High School Chapin Murphy had already secured a victory. And it had nothing to do with the scoreboard where the Indians came up short by a 37-14 score.
The BHS senior was out playing, which when you know about his medical past is quite the accomplishment. The medical past to which I refer has absolutely nothing to do with the broken hand that forced him to miss several games earlier this year.
Rather, it’s about a past that includes two situations before he ever hit double digits in age that could have either left him permanently damaged or killed him. It’s why his mother, Kelly Rolstad, had reasons beyond being proud when watching her son be involved at West Virginia University Medicine Children’s Hospital recently to smile.
Murphy, the all-state Bridgeport High School lineman, was among the dozens of senior Bridgeport football players and members of the cheerleading squad who were at the medical facility Nov. 16 to donate money to the hospital. It was, by no means a trivial amount as the two groups of students combined to raise $6,321 for the hospital.
It was all part of the first-ever TD for Tots campaign where community members pledged a dollar amount for each touchdown scored this year by the Indians football team. The high total is the result of players and cheerleaders getting pledges and the football team scoring a lot of points.
Had it just been that alone, I’m certain Kelly Rolstad would have been beaming from ear to ear that her son was part of the activities that day. Rolstad, however, had another reason to feel joy about the youngest of her four children being in Morgantown earlier this month.
It was in that same building that not once, but twice, Chapin Murphy was brought back to good health. And in one of those instances, Rolstad said with a hint of emotion in her voice the doctors in that same building almost certainly saved her son’s life.
“Two times we took Chapin there and both times the care and treatment he received was amazing,” said Rolstad. “Chapin getting a chance to give back in some small way was such a wonderful thing and I’m glad the team and the school has the program.”
Before getting to the more serious of Chapin Murphy’s two visits to Morgantown, it’s important to know the first. That first visit came when Murphy was just three days old and he found himself needing a medical flight to Morgantown.
The only thing unique about Rolstad’s fourth child was that Chapin Murphy was born after only 23 minutes of labor. While that certainly isn’t something most would complain about, it did eventually lead to problems; problems that manifested three days later.
“Everything was normal to the point where I was at a school practice when I noticed he wasn’t breathing right so I had one of the cheer moms, who was a nurse, look at him. Occasionally when he would breathe his chest would sink in and it was getting worse,” she said. “I had her look at it and it happened in front of her and agreed that something needed to be done.”
In short order, Kelly had her newborn in front of a doctor. And is often the case with everything in life, Chapin Murphy’s breathing was fine when the medical staff was reviewing him.
“It was frustrating because the doctor thought everything was normal and just having issues a lot of newborns have because it wasn’t happening,” she said. “I explained that it was caving in like a cereal bowl and then it happened. You could tell by the look on the doctor’s face that it wasn’t good.”
It wasn’t long after that a decision was made to get Chapin Murphy to Morgantown on a cold, dark night. While the baby flew via Life Flight, Kelly was in the car heading to Morgantown.
“When we got there, they had him in the PICU (Pediatrics Intensive Care Unit) and they didn’t know what was wrong,” said Rolstad. “They couldn’t figure it out and they were testing everything.”
Rolstad said it was a difficult time only made bearable by nurses who allow her to have skin to skin contact with her child and be with her son as much as possible. The compassion, she said, was as clear as the situation was unclear.
“Eventually it was determined that he was born too fast and the fluid that usually goes away in the lungs didn’t because of the speed of the delivery … They cleared that issue up, but by being there they found another issue that proved critical,” she said.
Young Chapin had issues early on with sleep apnea. He was sent home with an apnea monitor and the monitor worked. On more than one occasion, the alarm went off and trouble was avoided for the newborn baby.
“If we don’t go to Morgantown for that issue we don’t know about the apnea,” she said. “To this day, I’m convinced that entire situation was an answer to my prayers to let him leave that hospital where he would be healthy.”
Rolstad counted her blessings that day. She counted them for her son’s health, the medical professionals and the building in which the work was done. She also had some guilt.
“It’s kind of hard to leave the hospital with a healthy baby because what we saw with so many other children was just heartbreaking,” said Rolstad. “I was so thankful, but some people that never made it out with their child being healthy or with their child at all. There but for the Grace of God could have been Chapin. We were blessed to have everything return to normal.”
Chapin Murphy remembers none of that. He does remember when that normal would end the next time on the health front and he was eight years old. By then, Murphy’s love of sports had evolved and he was playing baseball when the most serious situation of his young life occurred. And if not for the insistence of his mother and the help of others, he may not have made it.
“I was playing baseball and my side had been bothering me and I thought maybe I a stomach flu coming on,” said Murphy. “I was actually pitching that day and pitched the whole game feeling miserable so when I went home I just went to sleep right away.”
It wasn’t stomach flu. In fact, it was much worse – deadly in fact.
Chapin Murphy’s appendix had ruptured. By the time he got to what was then known as WVU Children’s Hospital, doctors told his mother the appendix had likely been ruptured for up to eight hours.
“The surgeon said he had done a lot of appendectomies and a lot of ruptured ones, but he had never seen anything that bad before. He was literally so full of poison, sepsis, they didn’t expect him to live,” said Rolstad. “He was in the hospital for nine days. A normal appendectomy is done on outpatient and (you’re) home in the afternoon.”
Rolstad said the initial diagnosis was a flu before the trip to WVU. With her son’s pain, color and constant vomiting, she insisted that something be done outside of having him get rest and plenty of fluids. She said she contacted Dr. Mark Hrko, who arranged for Murphy to be taken to Morgantown.
“When they got him in the ambulance they knew right away what the problem was. They were ready for him when they got to Morgantown,” said Rolstad.
That would be beneficial as every second counted. And when the surgery was over, the doctor’s words were only comforting in the fact that he appeared to weather the worst of it.
“He actually told us we needed to sit down before he would tell us everything. We already knew it wasn’t normal because of the time he was in surgery,” said Rolstad. “I honestly thought I was going to be told he was dead. I can’t explain to you the feeling.”
What the doctor told her was they didn’t know how much damage or how severe things were. They also told her it would be a few days before her youngest child would be awake. It was the same child who asked his mother and the doctors before he went into surgery if he was going to wake up.
“I remember him looking up and asking us that,” said Rolstad. “They assured him he would be waking up so I leaned on that and that the doctor told us if all stayed well he would be up.”
Murphy did wake up. He did recover. And he continued to be a healthy young man that has continued to love and play sports as he is getting closer to wrapping up his high school career both academically and athletically.
“He wouldn’t be here or obviously on the football team if it hadn’t been for WVU Children’s Hospital,” said Rolstad. “ … Because of that I was so happy he was there this past week giving back in some small way.”
The fact wasn’t lost on Murphy. He, too, was thankful.
“It was really nice to be back there even though we didn’t to do things with the kids. Just helping and giving back was special, but there was a big part of me that really wanted to interact with the kids,” said Murphy. “After leaving there and realizing we got together to raise a pretty good amount of money, I thought it was cool to be back there. I guess had I not been there when I was younger I may not have been able to be there (earlier this month).”
He was there giving back. Because of that, the outcome was already decided for Murphy. He's leaving Bridgeport High School a winner.
Editor's Note: Photos of Chapin Murphy by Ben Queen and Joey Signorelli of

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