A Mothers Heart break: Water Safety

On the 9th of April 2006 I faced something no mother should ever have to see.

I woke that day not realizing that it will end up being the worst day of my life. My eldest Daughter Tanja (10) was at her Nans for the weekend. It was a beautifully warm, sunny autumn day of about 28 degrees so I took up  the opportunity to use the sun (and a quite warm breeze for that time of the year), so I washed clothes, sheets and towels. I was also cleaning the inside of the house and my two younger children wanted to play outside. Periodically I was outside with the washing then inside cleaning.  Every day, including that day I checked the pool gates to make sure they were closed (there were 2 gates). I had all the windows and doors open so I could watch and listen to my children play. They were having a great time giggling and having little conversations with their dog Porsche as if she were another child. Taylor (5) spoke constantly so it wasnt unusual for me not to hear Samuel (2) talk all the time especially if he was brumm brumming his little cars. I didnt always know what they were saying, I was just happy I could hear them talking and giggling. Samuel had taken off his shorts because it was something he liked to do, at anytime he would take off his nappy and on the odd occasion he would take off his t-shirt, he thought it was funny to do it. They were safe in my backyard away from the pool area. I relied on my four year old pool fence, I thought it was safe. I was terribly wrong.

My daughter called me to the back door in a jovial melodic five year old way, “mummee I’ve got something to showwww  youuuuw”. Thinking she had covered Samuel in some mud again I said “Ok in a minute” as I thought I just have to put some towels and sheets away as I had just folded them and I didnt want them to get muddied. Taylor then said , still melodically without panic or alarm “Muuummm I reeeeaaalllyy neeed youuw  toooo sseeeee thissss” so I went to the back door. Taylor was on the climbing cubby/gym and she was grinning naughtily, I thought what have they been up to. I asked her “where is Samuel”,  as I walked out the back door, she said “in there” gesturing to the pool area with a sweep of her hand. I quickly scanned the pool and the pool yard, no Samuel, the gates were shut, the water was flat, not even a ripple to suggest he was in there. There was no sign of Samuel, so I went around the back of the house to see if he was there, he wasn’t so I repeated “where is he?” , my daughter said “I told you he went in there for a swim”. With the sun’s reflection on the water I could not see anything in there, let alone Samuel, so I opened the pool gate, raced into the pool yard and it was then that I saw my son’s tiny little body floating lifeless just centremetres under the surface of the water right at the edge of the pool. He was wearing a t-shirt and his nappy, the nappy was three times bigger than it usually was with all the water in it.

He was in the deep end, face down, hovering just centimetres under the water right at the edge of the deep end. I didn’t even get wet until after I scooped Samuel into my arms. I rolled him onto his back in my arms, he was heavy, lifeless, swollen, his eyes were bulging and starey, he was foaming at the mouth, blue around his lips and his nose and his skin was a strange pale yellow colour. He did not look like my son. I will never no matter how hard I try, get the picture out of my head how my son was. The look , the taste, the smells,the sounds or the feeling will be with me forever. I ran back through the self latching gate. I laid Samuel down at the back door, I had felt a heart beat on my hand while carrying Samuel. I ran to the back door and went inside to find a phone, three phones and I couldnt find one anywhere. I ran to the front door where my new neighbour accross the road was sitting on his new bench seat on his front Verandah. I yelled to him to call the Police (that was all I could get out instead of Ambulance). He ran inside his house to call, I had already run back into the house to retrieve Samuel from out the back. All that took 5 seconds but it felt like slow motion. It felt like something strange took over my body. Samuel lay lifeless at the back door, I picked him up, held him very tightly and ran through the house to the front yard, by this time there was no heartbeat.

I knew I had to act quickly and without panic if my son had any chance of survival, I would feel panic coming and I would have to consciously push it away to deal with it later. I started CPR on my precious little boy out the front of my house on the lawn. It wasnt until three hours later that I found large prickles in my knees where I had been kneeling to do CPR on my baby. While performing CPR I kept thinking that I wasn’t doing it right. Pushing down on my son’s chest just looked and felt so painful for him. Was I breathing in too hard for a two year old, was I damaging his lungs, how many breaths to how many pumps. I know the rules of CPR had changed was I doing the old way, the wrong way or was I doing the new way, the right way. Who cares I just had to do it, right or wrong had to be better than nothing at all, he was dead if I did nothing. I kept wondering if I was hurting him rather than helping him, I just had to keep going no matter what or I knew my son wouldn’t make it. I had learnt CPR but it had been a few years too long ago. I knew that any CPR was better than no CPR and I also knew that doing CPR was pumping blood through Samuels body and oxygen was traveling through his body also even though his body wasnt doing it himself.

While performing CPR on Samuel, Taylor started crying and becoming quite scared. She was yelling at me and holding onto the pillar on the verandah like it was the only thing holding her up. Tears were streaming down her face. She kept yelling to me “whats wrong with Samuel, what are you doing”. I was getting very cranky with her because I was trying to concentrate on Samuel with how many pumps and how many breaths I was doing. I yelled back at her sort of to shut her up and also to half tell her off and I said the most regretful things to her….” youve killed your brother, you opened the gate and killed him”….Then I went back to performing CPR, knowing I had just said the worst thing anyone could to a five year old, or really anyone for that matter. I couldnt even say sorry to her or hug her as Samuel right then and there was the most important person to save. I could say sorry to her later.

As soon as my neighbour came over the road with his wife I could hear that she was talking to triple 0 and then she said we need an Ambulance not the Police,  so that was when I started to panic and then break down. I asked my neighbour to then take over and so the triple 0 phone operator told her to tell her husband what to do. A lady who was a nurse drove by and stopped as she could see that CPR was being performed and she then took over until the fire brigade and the ambulance came and then they took over.  Samuel still hadnt taken a breath nor did he have a pulse. His lifeless body was picked up and ran with to the back of the ambulance and CPR was being performed while he was being strapped in and with sirens blaring he was taken to the Nepean Hospital.

During the time my neighbour had taken over the CPR I ran back into the house to ring Michael to tell him about his Son. Michael was in an area north of the state of NSW  non-contactable by phone and had been there for two weeks and had one more week left before he was going to be home. He was working for the NSW Fire Brigade and the only way I was going to get the message to him was to call triple 0 and speak to the Fire Brigade control room. I had to relay the situation to someone I hadnt met to tell my Husband about his Son. That is when the Fire Brigade dispatched a Fire engine to our house, the Fire Brigade got to our house before the Ambulance.

I wasnt allowed to take Taylor into the ambulance so Taylor had to stay with the neighbours. I didnt get to say sorry to her, I only got to give her a hug, I didnt think to say sorry, it all started to become a blur with the Ambulance officers cutting off  Samuels T shirt in the back of the Ambulance and gave him his first shock, even before they got to close the doors.

On the trip to Nepean hospital and then at the hospital, he was given 13 shocks to the heart and several adrenalin injections. Samuels breathing started before his heart got a rhythm. Thankfully where Samuel was given an adrenalin injection in the right shinbone the leg started to swell and the leg from the toes to the knee started dieing and going black and I mean black, I had never seen anything like it. Thankfully I had that to concentrate on instead of the bigger picture. I kept being told that Samuel wasn’t going to make it but I kept denying it, I kept thinking, they were just doctors what do they know, he’s my son. There were tubes put into Samuel all over his body right before my eyes, everything was so quick so controlled and so quiet. There were about fifteen Doctors and Nurses every where all around my son, they all had their own job to do and they were all very determined and efficient. I was right next to his bed at the top corner, I could reach out and touch it but I felt like I was at the other end of the building. This did not seem like it was happening, I just wanted to wake up from this vivid nightmare.

Samuel was put into an induced coma as they needed to stabilize him for NETS to transfer Samuel to another hospital, it took about three hours for Samuel to be stable enough to get transferred, and in all that time I kept being told he probably wasn’t going to make it. What did they know , how dare they say that, I kept thinking. During the wait a Hospital Social Worker was assigned to be with me, she followed me to the toilet and asked if I need a Panadol, I replied snappingly “What the f%#@&k will a f%#@&king Panadol do, its not going to fix my Son”. I felt so angry towards her and it just felt like such a stupid question to ask when my son was teetering on the edge.

We were finally transferred to the Childrens Hospital at Westmead where Samuel was re-assessed and I was still told that my son was in grave danger and that he probably wouldn’t make it through the night. At this point they put Samuel onto a cooling mattress to cool down his body and give his brain the best chance of recovery and survival. I had to hear and experience all this without my husband, thankfully a close friend was called to be by my side.

Michael was away with work at the time but was on the first flight home after receiving the devastating news about his only son. Another two hours later Samuel’s father walked into his room in intensive care, the look on his face was pure shock, disbelief and hurt, I hope I never see that look ever again. I was so scared as i didnt know how he would respond towards me even though it was an accident. As there were so many hours in between the accident and Michael seeing Samuel so many scenarios flooded into my head. It was a traumatic time for all of us.

The next morning the Intensivist (Head Doctor of Intensive Care) and the Social Worker (a different and brilliant Social Worker) took us into a little room on our own, we had seen plenty of hospital shows to know that this isn’t a good sign. We were told that Samuel’s prognosis wasn’t good and if he didn’t have any brain waves he would be brain dead and so would not live when the machines were turned off. As at that moment he was on artificial life support and soon he would have to come off it. We were asked what our wishes were if Samuel was brain dead and both Michael and I knew that the best thing that we could do would be to donate Samuels organs so another family could have their child survive and we would have Samuel live on and grow in another child, and that in itself was a strange comfort to us.

It wasn’t till the day after that Samuel had an EEG to determine if he had any brain waves, and to our relief he did. Michael and I could dwell on the what ifs or why us or be angry but it’s done it HAS happened and nothing can change it. Samuel spent 3 days on life support, when it was turned off, Samuel wasn’t expected to live but he did and he kept fighting. He spent another six days in intensive care with twenty four hour round the clock, 1 on 1 nursing and the Intensive Care Doctors were only a short five steps from Samuels bed. So we felt safe that Samuel was being looked after and nothing was going to happen or go wrong.

During our Nine day stay in the Pediatric Intensive Care Ward Samuel had terrible, actually they were absolutely horrific spasms that would make Samuel arch his back so badly that just the back of his head and the back of his heels were the only body parts touching the bed.During those spasms Samuel made really awful sounds that I never want to hear again. Samuel was fed through a nasal gastric tube and was given high doses of many drugs. He was given hand splints and his legs plastered to save range as the spasms shorten his tendons, ligaments and muscles. We werent sure if  Samuel could hear or see anymore as he just seemed to look through you in a glazed over stare and didnt react much to sound. But we acted like he could see and hear and also know what was going on so we were careful what we said in front of him. Samuel didnt know when it was day or night so at night we played soothing classical music, then as soon as it was morning we turned the music off. This seemed to work well.

We met in those first nine days many staff at the Childrens Hospital Westmead. There were Intensivists, Rehab Doctors, Neurologists, Orthopaedic Surgeons, Pediatricians, Registrars, Interns, Consultants, Professors, Nurses, Clinical Nurses, Clinical Nurse Practitioners, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Cleaners and many many more. Little did we know how many more people we would meet, and how much we needed them all.

A few weeks later my stepfather made the discovery of a broken panel on the pool fence when he came over to mow the lawn. Samuel had pushed it over to get access to the pool which is what our five year old daughter had been trying to tell us at Samuel’s bedside. We didn’t know this until then because if we came home from the hospital at all we didn’t go outside, we didn’t even open the blinds to our backyard because we didn’t want to look at the pool.

Until then we had the horrible thought that our five year old daughter may have opened the gate and let Samuel in. I blamed Taylor for opening the gates and letting her brother into the pool. I feel sick that I didnt believe her when I asked if she had opened the gate when she said no. That awful day she wasnt worried about Samuel being in the pool, as she was a “middle” child, she was excited that Samuel was going to get into trouble when I saw him in the pool. She felt no fear for Samuels safety being in the pool as the whole family lived in that pool. Samuel loved the pool and had no fear of the water, he loved playing in it. He always had at least arm floats on and was constantly supervised while in the pool.

My son is a brave little man, he is the toughest, strongest person I will ever know in my lifetime.

Samuel spent nine days in intensive care. The next time I blog I will talk about the transition from Pediatric Intensive Care to a general Ward. this will include the fears of changing from intense care to minimal care, the treatments to help Samuel, our thoughts and feelings of our Son.

Kids are inquisitive and love water and so they should have fun with it, but parents or an adult/carer needs to supervise so that everyone is safe. If the unthinkable does happen the quicker CPR starts the greater the chances of survival. I want people to know that if a child survives a drowning it doesn’t mean that they will be normal, nearly one quarter (22.5%) of all near drowning survivors are left with a brain injury that leaves them with disabilities for life. Anecdotally we also know that some of those that survive with apparently no ill effects at the time of the near drowning may develop other problems as they grow such as behavioural and learning difficulties, but these may not be fully evident until the child starts school, so some longitudinal study following survivors of near drowning is required, as we believe the outcomes may be worse than thought in the long term.

Thank you for Reading my Blog

Please leave a comment

Jo-ann XXX

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32 Responses
  1. Wow Jo-Ann
    What a traumatic experience putting that time into words must have been. It brought back Ashleigh’s near drowning as if it was yesterday. You have written this brilliantly you have a flair for writing. I have no doubt this will be a site that will serve as a reminder of the need for water safety as well as a comfort and support for others going through the same thing. Thanks for sharing.

    Liz xx

    • theboss says:

      Oh Thanks Liz, I hope it wasnt too hard for you reading my blog. Pieces of my blog will probably be similar to anyone that travels our path.
      Jo-ann XXX

  2. MJ says:

    Wow, I had no idea! Thankyou for sharing. This blog will be on my favorites list. Take care.XOX

  3. Julie S. says:

    Hi Jo-Ann,

    My son had his near-drowning on 1/16/07. Your story is very familiar. I would love to hear how he is doing now.

    • theboss says:

      Hi Julie, Sorry to hear about your Son. I see youve just had your 3 year anniversary, I hope it passed ok. Ours is coming up and I dread that time. I would love to hear how your Son is going. Thanks for reading my blog.
      Jo-ann XXX

  4. This took a lot for me to read and had to stop a couple of times. All I can say is thankyou for having the courage to write this.

    I want to write more but I physically cant

    • theboss says:

      Thank you TheInfoPreneur for reading my blog.

      I know what I have written is hard to read but this is my life now. Many people dont understand the true life of a survivor of a drowning.

      The media reports on a drowning and they report either a death or they have survived. The media rejoice when they survive and thats the end of the story.

      The only time you see a follow up story on a child that has survived is when the child is totally ‘normal’ after the ordeal, happy, smiling, playing and talking. Thats the ideal story. (how I wish that were the story for all survivors).

      In my world and in so many others this is not the case, their life has changed forever. I wont make apologies that its a hard read because its just how it is.

      This story does get harder so the read will get tougher.

      I hope you can keep reading my blog.

      Jo-ann XXX

      • Jamie says:

        I want to read the rest of your blog, but for some reason it won’t allow me to.
        I found your site because close friends of my husband and I just recently had an experience with their 18 month old. He survived a near drowning and is now in a vegetative state. As a mother to 3 children, one very close in age to their son, words cannot describe how traumatic this whole situation has been. My heart breaks for you and for my friends, and for any other parent out there who has had this experience in their life. I have many questions but I am too afraid to ask my friends because I don’t think it is my place
        And I certainly don’t want to make matters
        Any more difficult than they already are. I would love to email you a few
        Questions if you are open to it, and would certainly love to follow your blog to see the rest of your journey with Samuel. Thank you for writing this- I look forward to hopefully reading the rest of your story.

  5. Debbie H says:

    My heart goes out to you as you share your Familie’s story with us. Yours is a tragic accident, so unfair as you were taking all percautions with your family. I can feel your grief as I read, but no matter how hard your story gets for me to read, I intend to keep reading. I am aware that you need to share, to let others know how silent drowning can be, so I am here for you when you feel the need to continue your story.
    My daughter was 2 when she tried to drown herself in 6 inches of water in Council wading pool. It happened right before my eyes. I was lying on my stomach watching her like a Hawk, put my head down for a second to light my cigarette, looked up and she was GONE. My Panic was mind blowing as I raced to the side of the wading pool. She was face down in the water. Toddlers were frollocing in the pool, parents were sitting on the side of the wading pool, but NO ONE tried to rescue my child. I snatched her up by the hair as she coughed and spluttered in my arms. The whole thing felt so Surreal and still does. This happened 34 years ago and yet still today I search my head to make sure there was nothing I could have done better to watch her. I know I was being a good mother, but still today, I carry soooooo much guilt about what happened to my Daughter. God blessed me that day, as today my Daughter is a beautiful, very happy, successful young business woman now. Life sucks some times, but accidents do happen. Your courage inspires me Jo-ann, thank you so much for sharing. Hugs XOXOXO

    • theboss says:

      Hi Debbie, After 34 years its about time you give yourself a break.

      Hopefully commenting on my blog will help you relieve your guilt.

      No matter how good or careful you are as a Mother accidents DO and WILL happen.

      Jo-ann XXX

  6. lee says:

    I know this was probably not an easy story to blog about. I lost a nephew to a pool drowning when he was Samuels age. We called him Goober. To this day I don’t think his Mother has gotten over it. I know it’s not something you just get over, but I mean she has been hard on herself ever since. I wish she had the courage to blog about it or something. Keep up the good work. I know that this has to help not only you but will helps tons of others in similar situations not just in a drowning.
    I found another site very similar to this story a few weeks ago. I pray I can find it again. I will look diligently so as to share the link with you. I think you’ll find so much similarity that both could benefit from.

    • theboss says:

      Hi Lee, thank you for reading my blog.

      Sorry to hear about your nephew.

      I think a Mother will never get over losing a child. I hope she isnt too hard on herself though.

      Jo-ann XXX

  7. Serena says:

    This is such a powerful story. Words can’t begin to describe it. It brings back memories of losing my little boy to drowning, such a horrible horrible thing. My heart goes out to you and to all those whose comments I have just read who know this too xx

    • theboss says:

      Hi Serena, Thanks for reading my blog.

      Im so sorry that you had to lose your Son Nathan. Thank you for being one of my support friends. I wish our tragedies were not the reason of our friendship.

      Jo-ann XXX

  8. Betsy says:

    Hey Jo-ann,
    As you already know, we met because we share a similar exp. My Claire came out of her accident ok, and I am still amazed everyday by ur strength. I have read ur story before and yet is still so powerful. I too will never forget the image of my baby after I pulled her from tub, I also yelled at my son who was in the tub with her. Images and words spoken that I have had a hard time coming to terms with, but if someone can say anything good can come from this tragedy, it is that I have acquired a fabulous, strong woman as a friend!

    • theboss says:

      Betsy, thank you….XXXX
      I to have a fabulous strong friend out of our shared tragedy, I just wish you didnt live in America. Claire highlights that no 2 drownings are the same and each outcome can vary greatly. I am so thankful that Claire is ok, and Betsy you are going to have to stop having guilt that Claire has survived unscathed. I know those images will be with you for a long time but they will fade over time.
      Jo-ann XXX

  9. Peter says:

    Hi Jo-ann,
    I came across your amazing blog as I thought this morning about my son who had a similar life as your Samuel. My son James walked into a neighbors unprotected pool on a beautiful sunny day in October (1987) and our world, my son, my family was swept away into the river of events you so vividly describe in your writing. I couldn’t read or view the images but to capture a phrase, a few threads of words and fleeting pics of you and Samuel. He is beautiful. I felt very much like the Dad you gazed at in the rehab facility. My path turned to becoming a single dad caring for James until he walked through the door of eternity at 13 years. It’s been 11 years this October…and he is ever present. I’m so encouraged to see you and your husband working together with Samuel’s care. Thanks for your writing. I’m sure its a tremendous resource for those of us who share and shared this life. All the best to you and your family, you will be in my thoughts and prayers for strength, a greater love and passion for your son. Peter

    • theboss says:

      Peter, Im so sorry to read about your Son James. James sounds like he had a wonderful father in you. This sort of tragedy certainly takes its toll on a family. I would love to hear more about James when you are ready to share more of him. Im glad you found my blog, although I have been so busy with Samuel and my Daughter so I have neglected my Blog a bit too much but I will be back writing again soon…..there is Sooo much to say. Anytime you need to chat, Im here to talk or now that we are friends on FB, we can chat there. Thanks Jo-ann XXX

  10. Sharon Wilson says:

    Hi Jo-Ann,
    So glad you have created this beautiful website about your son Samuel as there needs to be more awareness of how common and easily these incidents can occur and more re-assurance that we shouldn’t blame ourselves as parents. My son almost drowned almost a year ago now and I went through post traumatic stress and postnatal depression following the shock of what could’ve been. We were at mothers group and the mum who’s house we were at hadn’t told us that there was a deep pond not far from the house. I was feeding my 3 month old daughter at the time and my son Kade was only out of sight for no more than 2 minutes before my friend found him laying next to the fish pond crying hysterically soaking wet. Thank god he wasn’t wearing any shoes as he would’ve sunk to the bottom for sure. The pond had steep sides and was around a metre deep however Kade had managed to climb up the sides somehow and get himself out. Im so blessed that it wasn’t a different outcome however can’t understand why this mum would have this danger for her children to be exposed to. Still to this day she refuses to put mesh over this pond which makes me quite angry as I worry for her children. There needs to be stronger laws on water safety to protect all children.

  11. This post took me so long to read. I kept crying. We have a pool maintenance company in Menorca and actively promote pool safety. People ust don’t realize how quickly these things can happen. Thank you so much for sharing this incredibly personal story with us. I will tweet it. xxx

  12. Phil Dzialo says:

    I totally have empathy with your experience. My son, Adam, was under water for 25 minutes in a summer camp accident 12 years ago. After months in PICU, we brought him home and have directed his recovery ever since. Took three years to get out a g-tube (of course, against MD’s advice); took him several years to even smile. In the past 12 years he has made much progress mainly due to our commitment to ABR (Advanced Biomechanical Rehab) http://www.blyum.com.
    We have tried everything Western Medicine offered from PT to botox to HBOT…we have come across a very parent intensive approach. Would love to chat if your interested, but I imagine your life is consumed..
    By the way, my wife, Sharon has just published a book on our and Adam’s journey and it’s available at http://www.ceramictoclay.com if you have either time, interest or both.
    My sincerest best wishes,

  13. Hi Jo-ann, through a twitter friend your husband was sent to my blog. I lost my first son to drowning accident many years ago. I’m so sad to read of Samuels accident & the traumatic time your family has been through. I hope one day there will be a way we could stop any family from going through this… I wish you strength & peace in your lives together along with joy 🙂

  14. Samantha Finlay says:

    Dear Jo-Ann & Michael, after meeting you all this past week I was intrigued with you and families story, therefore I found myself as we returned home and our kids went to bed wanting to hear it all – I checked out the website.

    Jo-Ann’s account of the events was true and honest I felt in her shoes I would have done and acted the same way- you were amazing, determined and showed such strength from the onset (how brave you were – I strive for your strength),

    Taylors’s company was greatly welcomed and a fabulous distraction for our boys (my boys were smitten with her and driven by her attention) this past week. They loved having a bigger sister and being looked out for as she so warmly did. She cared for them and engaged them in such a positive manner – thank you Taylor!

    We trust your trip home went smoothly and wish you each all the best xo xo xo xo

    All our love Sam, James, Campbell & Vaughan

  15. […] Morris Foundation.  The organization is in the name and inspired by their son Samual Morris.  Samual is an unfortunate victim of a near drowning tragedy.  As a result of this accident, Samuel experienced a severe Hypoxic Brain Injury and was left with […]

  16. jeSSIE says:

    My friends daughter (15 months) is going through a similar experience. She is on hour 24 of the mandated 72 hours of medicaly induced coma. I am reading everything I can to understand what may happen. I can’t stop crying, and I have no idea how to comfort her. Thank you for sharing. It was hard read, but good to know.

  17. Elaine says:

    Dear Jo-Ann, Thank you for having the guts to tell your story.As. horrible as it has been for you to live through it may help to prevent other tragedies and possibly encourage people to take a CPR course. I was a young nurse in my first few weeks of working in the OR when I was involved in harvesting organs from a toddler who drowned when her Grandparents were caring for her. They had taken her to the lake when her parents had to go out of town for a family funeral. They turned away from her for just a minute and she wandered off to the waterfront and was found shortly thereafter floating in the lake. She was not able to be resuscitated and died. We harvested her organs and it was as we retrieved her eyes for the corneas that I lost it. My anger was not at the Grandparents. They had enough to have to live with but I was so angry that we were not able to do more.
    I hope that you know how valuable your story is and that if even one child is saved because their parent is more cautious around water than they may have been, then all the pain brought up in the telling will have been worth it. I hope Michael doing well and he is indeed a brave young man.

  18. Denise says:

    You’ve touched my heart. I, unfortunately know your story too well! Thank you for sharing your strength & courage! I truly admire it! ??
    Love & prayers to Samuel & your entire family!

  19. Tania says:

    My son also had a near drowning.

    He was born with liver cancer. He was diagnosed at 13 weeks old to have hepatoblastoma with a tumor the size of an ostrich egg off his liver. We did 10 rounds of chemo and had 40% of his liver removed.
    And he went into remission just before his first birthday.

    However, we changed cities 2 weeks before his 2nd birthday. The house we were staying in had a large pool but also a safety net. So we were happy it was at least safe.

    But on his 2nd birthday my husband opened the pool so the kids could swim a bit. But before that he had to go out for 5 minutes. He closed the house’s safety gate. All the kids, we have 5 of them ????, we’re playing in the lounge with him and his new birthday toys. And our domestic worker was also with them. So I went ahead with icing his teddy bear birthday cake. As my husband was just about to leave we heard the domestic calling him. We went to see why, and she was retrieving our son out of the pool.

    He was basically dead. He was blue blue and just hanging limp with no heartbeat. No eye movement, nothing.
    My husband panicked a bit by the shock.

    My first instinct was to get oxygen to his brain and get him breathing asap. I took him, lay him on the pool paving and started cpr. Or what I could remember seeing and reading about cpr. I had never done it before. I started with 3 chest compressions and breathing. Then chest then breathing. I did it a couple of times. Silently praying, cursing, begging.

    I then heard faint bubbles and wheasing from his chest. He got some of the water out but his lungs we’re still full. He was having seizures. Making horrible groan type sounds. He was not aware of us.

    We then decided to rush him to the hospital as it would be the quickest. In peak traffic on a Friday afternoon we did it. I continued cpr all the way to make sure the oxygen was still getting in. My husband drove as fast as possible and we got there within minutes. We rushed into the ER and shouted drowning. Within seconds there was a team of nurses and doctors that took over. They pumped his lungs and gave him the anti drown medicine to flush all the extra water out via a catheter. They gave him meds for the seizures which put him in a coma. They left him to raise his temperature on his own it was 32.7 degrees celcius when we got there.

    When he was stable they took him for a brain scan and lung xray. His brain had slight swelling and his lungs we’re clear. They started him on anti biotics as being a cancer patient he had a compromised immune system which would battle to fight a bad lung infection from the drowning.

    He was moved to icu. We had no idea if he would live or die. We had no idea if he would stay comatose or not. Whether there would be brain damage or not. But, 5 hours later our little hero opened his eyes and said ‘hello daddy, hello mommy’ to us and thats when our tears came from relief that he was awake and could talk and recognise us.

    He started the infection on his lungs the next day but the antibiotics we’re still being administered. All went well from there. He stayed in icu as they did not have a bed in a surgical ward available for him, and because of his compromised immune system and what he had just gone through they weren’t prepared to put him in with any sick kids.

    He was released from hospital after 5 nights.

    It is now 4 years and 3 months later and he is doing very well. No brain damage or any other problems that we are aware of or to be too worried about.

    We still relive it many times a day even though it’s 4 years later. I don’t think we will ever forget that day or what happened. Up to today we are still not sure how he got outside as the gate was closed. But a month later we did catch him climbing out the window through the burglar bars, so we imagine that was his route then too.

    We just so thankful that he is still with us and that there were no lasting effects, and that we at least have a happy ending which unfortunately only 2 out of 10 have according to his doctor at the time. ????

  20. cameron says:

    Hi Jo-Ann, I have read your heartbreaking story on Samuels near drowning with teary eyes. No one should ever have to face what you guys have experienced or been through.Samuel is so lucky to have positive caring parents such as yourselves through this very difficult journey. Michael, and yourself are doing Samuel proud by doing a fantastic job in promoting water safety/supervision and helping out so many other children in desperate need of vital equipment. Well done guys,keep it going, you are making a huge difference in water safety awareness. Hopefully One day I may be lucky to meet you both in the future. And not to forget Tanja and Taylor. Best Wishes. Regards Cameron Mc.

  21. Rebecca Hayman says:

    Hi Jo-Ann, thank you so much for sharing your story. I am a Paediatrician in NZ and next week I am presenting to the NZ Government select committee on their repeal of our swimming pool safety act. One of the things they want to change is the requirement for inspection of fencing, in addition to loosening the type of fence and gate around a pool, all to make it easier and cheaper to have a pool (not to improve the prevention of drownings). I was wondering if I could use your story and pictures to get my message across? So many of the proposals talk about the rarity of drowning, the “fault” and the cost of fencing, as if a price can be placed on a child’s life. I want to be able to make the members of the committee realise that not all drownings result in death, but they are still extremely traumatic, that children are very innovative and curious and for the members to have that sick feeling that happens when you think about something like this happening……
    I understand completely if you aren’t comfortable with this.

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