CCES Voices

Dr. James Ryan

Mice on Main Doctor Got His Start at CCES

Greenville anesthesiologist Dr. James Ryan '00 chose medicine because it’s the “perfect combination of intellectualism and altruism,” he says.

It was several years after graduating from Christ Church Episcopal School that he chose to become a doctor, but Dr. Ryan’s senior project at CCES showed his early knack for combining academic prowess with his desire for helping people of all ages.

Creating Greenville’s Mice on Main

As a CCES senior, Ryan came up with the idea for Mice on Main, a popular attraction in downtown Greenville inspired by the children’s book “Goodnight Moon.”

“I created Mice on Main as a scavenger hunt on Main Street for kids to do with their parents or grandparents,” Ryan said.   

Mice or Main originated as a multi-purpose art project for downtown Greenville. It was the late-90s and early-2000s, and Greenville was just beginning to revitalize the downtown area.

“The idea behind it was to not only add to public art in our downtown area, but also to increase foot traffic downtown in order to help bring more businesses into local retailers,” Ryan said.

Ryan’s idea worked. Mice on Main has garnered lots of attention since its inception 20 years ago, and while Ryan has received just as much acknowledgment for the project, he always points out that Mice on Main was a team effort.

“I never could've done the project without the collaboration and help of so many in the CCES family and the greater local community,” he said.

Becoming an Anesthesiologist

Ryan went on to Duke University after graduating from CCES where he majored in economics. During his junior year, he decided to go to medical school. So, after Duke, Ryan went on to the Medical University of South Carolina to become an anesthesiologist. He preferred anesthesia to other options because he liked the idea of helping patients immediately and performing a variety of procedures.

“Above all, though, it is very gratifying and humbling to be able to care for patients during some of the most vulnerable times in their lives, such as having a major surgery or having a baby,” Ryan said. “As an anesthesiologist, I also get to take care of people during all stages of their life, from newborns all the way up to geriatrics.”

“Being trusted by my patients to get them through surgery safely and with a minimal amount of pain or discomfort has been a great privilege for me, and it's a responsibility that I do not take lightly.”

Delivering a Baby...Orangutan?

Recently, Dr. Ryan used his talents to help with another local attraction: He and his wife, Dr. Amanda Ryan, delivered the baby orangutan at the Greenville Zoo.

The zoo veterinarian asked Amanda, an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN), to be a consultant during the mother orangutan’s pregnancy and delivery. Because Lana (the mother orangutan) was considered a high-risk pregnancy, the Greenville Zoo asked James to be the anesthesia consultant in case a C-section were required.

“My role as the anesthesiology consultant began in the planning phase and included recommendations for necessary equipment, resources, medications and anesthetic techniques for sedation,” James said.

On the night Lana went into labor, the Zoo called James to let him know a C-section was needed. James inserted a breathing tube into Lana’s airway before she was transported to Upstate Veterinary Specialists for the C-section. James monitored Lana’s vital signs and administered medication to keep her blood pressure within a normal range and maintain perfusion to the baby.

“This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” James said. “However, like everything in medicine, and in life, the wonderful outcome of a healthy baby could not have been achieved without cooperation among multiple team members.”

Dr. Ryan Credits CCES

Dr. James Ryan is always the first to give credit where credit is due. He says CCES gave him the foundation for college, medical school, and a career as an anesthesiologist.

Dr. Ryan learned teamwork and leadership skills as a CCES student-athlete on the football and basketball teams. He played JV football for Coach Marshall Stewart and Coach John Jones before playing varsity football for Coach Ashley Haskins and varsity basketball for Coach RJ Beach. After serving as football team captain his junior year, he went on to become captain of both the football and basketball teams his senior year.

Work inside the classroom and extracurricular activities outside the classroom taught him how to manage his time wisely and led him toward the subjects he’s most interested in. At CCES, he also learned the importance of giving back to the community through the Service Learning program, a critical component of a CCES education, starting in the earliest of grades.

As a medical student, Dr. Ryan volunteered at the MUSC CARES Clinic, a student-run medical clinic that provides healthcare to those without health insurance. James also provided free medical care to residents of Crisis Ministries (now One80 Place), a homeless shelter in Charleston.

Today, Dr. Ryan serves on the CCES Alumni Board, volunteers for the Greenville Zoo, and supports the Lowcountry Food Bank, Pendleton Place, March of Dimes, and several charitable organizations.
“Above all else,” Dr. James Ryan said, “I learned to always strive for excellence in any endeavor I pursue. CCES really creates a culture of success and excellence for its students.  Furthermore, there is a real sense of community at CCES, and some of my best friends to this day are from relationships that started at Christ Church.”

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Christ Church Episcopal School (“CCES”) admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at CCES. CCES does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, national or ethnic origin, creed, religion, or sexual orientation in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, financial aid, scholarship or other programs, or athletic or other school-administered programs and activities.