Boy's recovery from near-drowning and coma a rare thrill: doctor
Last Updated: Friday, April 24, 2009 | 10:14 AM CT
The Winnipeg doctor in charge of Samuel Gross's care called it a thrilling experience to see the little boy emerge from his coma this week.
Murray Kesselman, director of the Health Sciences Centre pediatric intensive care unit, said it's rare a case like this turns out so well.
"We were just thrilled. There was grinning. It was just a wonderful feeling," Kesselman said.
Samuel was sent to hospital in critical condition on April 9 and spent the next 13 days in a coma before regaining consciousness this week.
"The day before [he emerged from the coma] he'd become very agitated," said Kesselman. "His family was singing to him for about six hours, because every time they started to sing he'd calm down again and that gave us some inkling that he was aware of what was happening. From that point he just continued to improve."
The eight-year-old boy nearly drowned on the Westroc Hutterite Colony when he stepped onto a flooded culvert and was sucked into it by the force of the flowing water.
Initial reports said that he was under the freezing water for five to 10 minutes. On Thursday, doctors said he was actually under for 20 minutes.
'All these events have to happen at the right time at the right sequence and unfortunately most times this isn't going to be the outcome. So it's a really wonderful experience.'—Murray Kesselman
The Alberta-based STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society) Air Ambulance, which was contracted by the Manitoba government and operated out of Winnipeg during the flood, transported Gross from the colony near Portage la Prairie to the hospital.
Medical personnel worked on the boy for two hours before his heart responded and started beating again, said Kesselman, adding that Samuel survived because the frigid waters made his body and his brain very cold before his heart stopped.
"All these events have to happen at the right time at the right sequence and unfortunately most times this isn't going to be the outcome," he said. "So it's a really wonderful experience for the child and family and for all the caregivers."
Appears to be on the way to full recovery
Samuel appears to be making a full recovery, though he'll likely need to be in the hospital for a couple more weeks to heal from his injuries. But other than a sore arm, the boy seems fine, Kesselman said.
"Samuel seems to be the boy he was — his personality, his memory of, not of the event but of events prior to that, all seems to be intact. He still has some weakness in parts of his body, but he continues to make rapid progress," said Kesselman.
Robert Gross, the boy's father, thanked everyone who played a part in the dramatic recovery.
"[There was] a lot of praying, a lot of support. We gotta be thankful for that," he said. "Fate, it's overwhelming. Everything that came through. It's an amazing story."
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