A woman who adopted a starving young boy from Bulgaria has documented his incredible transformation online.
When Priscilla Morse, from Tennessee, met Ryan, he was 7 years old and weighed only 8 pounds. The orphaned boy was incredibly small for his age, according to Inside Edition, and Priscilla initially thought she had the wrong boy, because of his size.
"The first meeting was pretty scary," Priscilla said. She traveled to Bulgaria to meet Ryan, even after the State Department advised her not to go because of the danger in that part of the country, The Jackson Sun reports.
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"He was bones and skin, like a skeleton," said Priscilla. "The first thing that went through my head was, 'he's going to die.'"
When Priscilla saw Ryan's photo online, she already had three children, Dylan, Jack and McKenzie. Priscilla and her husband, David, adopted McKenzie, who has Down syndrome and a congenital heart defect, from Russia in 2012.
Priscilla and David adopted Ryan and took him with them back to Tennessee in November 2015, where he began his journey to recovery. The couple fought to get Ryan a feeding tube, which allowed his body to regain some of the nourishment it had been lacking.
The couple also learned of Ryan's other health issues, including dwarfism, microcephaly, scoliosis, cerebral palsy and clubbed feet. The young boy's next surgery will be a spinal surgery to place a rod that is needed to straighten his back.
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Through pictures and stories shared on social media, Priscilla has shown Ryan's remarkable recovery. Several photos show Ryan smiling and laughing.
"Given everything he's gone through he is an incredibly happy guy!" said Priscilla.
"He was dying," Priscilla said, reports Little Things. "Now, he is moving into 24M/2T clothing and weighs 23 pounds. His skin is no longer pale but a lovely olive shade that is representative of his Roma heritage."
Priscilla said that when she saw Ryan's picture online, she was reminded of her brother, who she knew only briefly before he died at the age of 9.
"I was pretty young when he passed away, [but] I remember how much my parents loved him in spite of all his special needs," said Priscilla. "I wanted to give that to a child that was given up because of his special needs. Everyone is deserving of a family."
"You can tell he's just a happy little boy. He looks like he has hope now," Priscilla said of Ryan. "People write off special needs kids because it looks scary, but these kids are worth it. They truly deserve to be loved like any other kid."