From intensive care to representing Tasman on the basketball court in a matter of months, 14-year-old Ryan Crawford has beaten the odds.
The basketball-mad Richmond teenager was sidelined in January by a potentially fatal bacterium that was attacking his liver and threatening to infect other organs.
Within 24 hours of going to the doctor for what Ryan's mother Sheryn Cashman said were flu-like symptoms, Ryan was rushed to Christchurch Hospital on a Life Flight plane for immediate surgery.
"The doctors didn't know whether he'd survive the flight."
A 12cm abscess was discovered on his liver and was pushing his diaphragm into his shoulder and taking up a large part of his torso, she said.
Ryan was diagnosed with a rare bug named streptococcus milleri and had to spend seven weeks in Christchurch Hospital.
Although he missed all of term one at Waimea College, Ryan said he did not miss out on lessons altogether.
"I still had to do an hour-and-a-half of schoolwork each day."
He was back on the court before being back at school, determined to make the under-15 Tasman regional basketball team.
Only five weeks after arriving home Ryan made a cameo appearance on-court in the first round of trials and got into the selection squad. "My first shot was a three and it went in."
"Ed Book gave a great big clap and yelled out ‘he's back', and when he did that, I just burst into tears," Ryan's mother said.
From there Ryan was selected from each trial up to the final team, which represents West Coast, Buller, Marlborough and Nelson.
He said the selection was close.
"They were choosing between three of us for the last 10.
"I don't think I was nervous because even if I didn't make Tasman it was quite good from where I was to make just a team anyway."
"Everyone says it's good how I've got back but it just feels normal for me, it doesn't feel like anything special."
The under-15 boys' coach Sam Dempster said Ryan managed to keep up with his team-mates despite his ordeal.
"It's pretty impressive in the space of months to be back on his feet and back on the basketball court."
He said the preparation for the national tournament was intense for the boys, who were also training with their high school teams.
And with five basketball trainings a week, Ryan will definitely be fit for the tournament.
The Tasman team will compete at the national tournament in Wellington from July 16- 19.
- The Nelson Mail