'Officer Lance' recovering at home

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 15, 2011

By Karissa Minn
Officer Ian Lance came home from Duke University Medical Center Saturday and is doing much better after his surgery, his mother said Monday.
Angela Lance said her son is still in a lot of pain but is very glad to be home. He still has some fluid in his lungs, but they now have inflated after one lung collapsed and another partially collapsed days after the March 4 surgery.
The surgery — his third since he was 3 months old — was to replace hardware in Ian’s spine, which is twisting and growing to the side.
Lance said hospital staff referred to Ian as ‘Officer Lance’ — a title the 6-year-old earned when he was sworn in as a China Grove Police Officer.
Ian wears a Salisbury Police Department uniform every day and drives a little motorized patrol car. He was given a tour of the Salisbury department before his surgery and met Chief Rory Collins.
The family originally was told Ian would have to wear a body brace and not walk for weeks. Doctors now say a brace isn’t needed, and Ian is walking with assistance a couple of times per day to help with his lungs.
‘To be able to walk at this point and not wear a brace — those are two things he’s just tickled about,’ Lance said. ‘Our hope and intent is that he will be back to playing and back on duty riding his police car real soon.’
Lance and her husband, Daryl, hope that this surgery will be the last one Ian needs to help him live a normal life. She said doctors are optimistic.
Ian’s surgeon operated on two sites at once, putting two rods and 13 screws in his spine. In order to replace things, the doctor had to break one of Ian’s ribs and collapse his left lung.
But the lung inflated much more slowly than expected, and two days after the surgery, doctors discovered that his right lung had collapsed.
Ian was moved to the hospital’s intensive care unit.
He had been taken off a ventilator the day after his surgery, and he breathed with the assistance of an oxygen mask until Friday.
Lance said doctors had considered a bronchoscopy to suction fluid in his lungs, but when he began to make slow progress, they decided to take a chest X-ray Saturday.
The X-ray revealed that a mucus plug clogging the lungs and causing congestion had pulled out, and Ian had begun to improve.
‘Even though he still has fluid in his lungs, he is actually able to move around now and his lungs can inflate,’ she said. ‘They said with regular physical therapy, he could probably come home.’
Ian moved out of the intensive care unit Friday night and left the hospital Saturday afternoon.
Lance said that thanks to Collins Ian has been receiving letters — some containing gold symbols and patches — from police departments as far as Connecticut. She said police officers at the hospital also had heard about Ian and came to visit.
‘As much as this is a bad experience, he is overwhelmed with just how kind everyone’s been to him,’ she said. ‘We want to thank people for praying for him and all the kind things they’ve said. … God does answer prayers.’
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.