Boy who collapsed on baseball field heads home with new challenges

A Bay Area boy who collapsed on a Pleasanton baseball field while warming up to pitch a game last May had a bittersweet homecoming Thursday after he finally left UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland.

Going home has always been the goal for the family of 11-year old Dillon O'Leary. Thursday afternoon their wish came true. Dillon went home after six and a half months in the hospital.

"We're just going to keep putting one step in front of the other," said Dillon's mother, Carina. "The road is still long and unknown."

On May 5th O'Leary was getting ready to pitch at a Little League game when he collapsed on the field. Since then, O'Leary has been UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland.

Doctors were puzzled how a seemingly healthy boy could collapse and go into a coma. They suspected an AVM, a cluster of blood vessels, burst in his brain.

Then Dillon's parents got the diagnosis.

"It's a rare cancer on his brain and in his back, in the spinal fluid," explained Patrick O'Leary, Dillon's father.

"Well, to hear it was another kick in the gut," Carina O'Leary said.

Dillon will start radiation treatments, which hold a 25 percent chance of wiping out the tumors in his brain and spine.

"I know I put my money on my kid any day," assured Patrick O'Leary. "So I'm sure he'll be just fine."

Leaving Children's Hospital was bittersweet.

"It is," said Carina. "Dillon is making so many improvements that everybody is tearful."

Nurses and staff on the rehabilitation floor wiped tears as they sang a goodbye song and hugged Dillon. They've become attached to the 11-year old.

"He's pretty stubborn," said Tina Hill, a patient care assistant with a gregarious laugh.

"I'm like, 'Dude! I'm going to be stubborn too! I'm just going to talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, and call you 'fried chicken', call you 'turkey.' And when you get tired of that you're going to start talking to me!'" Hill continued, looking through Dillon's door. "And he started talking to me because he got tired of me calling him 'fried chicken!'"

The O'Learys arrived at their Pleasanton home Thursday afternoon to a welcoming committee holding signs and balloons. Neighbors, friends, police, and firefighters all chanted "Dillon! Dillon!"

"My heart is just so happy to have him home," said neighbor Bree Gomes through her tears. "This is going to be the best Thanksgiving ever!" "Having him home is just a dream come true," said Sunol Glen Principal Molleen Barmes. "We are continuing our prayers and our love being 'Dillon Strong'."

There is a GoFundMe page set up for Dillon's ongoing care and expenses where interested parties can make a contribution.