News 4 Lifesaver

May 3, 2012 9:00 PM

Hyperbaric treatment for near drowning patients

TUCSON - We've told you how life changing a near drowning can be. When a child nearly drowns, there's been a lack of oxygen to the brain that often creates life-long cognitive and developmental problems... requiring special treatments.
It happened to Ryan Thomas.

"Those 2 boys climbed over a six foot brick wall in the neighbor's yard where there was a pool. And we don't think they fell in," his mom Angie explains. "We think they jumped in."

The accident happened in January 2007 in Sierra Vista. Ryan was almost three. He and a buddy were found floating unconscious. Both boys were injured but Ryan was the worst off. He spent 10 weeks in a Tucson hospital.

"The doctors they didn't have much hope," says Angie.

At one time doctors told Ryan's parents they might have to consider taking him off life support. Ryan survived but the medical team said he would never be the same.

"He told us he will always be a vegetable. He will never walk, never talk," says Angie.
"Five years later he's completely different than what they said."

While Ryan was in the hospital, his mom heard about hyperbaric treatments. The patient breaths pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber.

Dr. Carol Hendricks, a neurologist, believes in it.

"When you deliver extra oxygen to any injured tissue, it allows that tissue heal itself."

Before the treatments Ryan was stiff, immobile and agitated. He was taking a list of medications; muscle relaxers, seizure medicines and valium to calm him down.

Within 2 weeks after hyperbaric treatments he started to loosen up and soon he was off all the meds.

While he still has issues with balance, Ryan is able to walk now.

"I'm 100 percent convinced that the hyperbaric did what needed to be done to get him to where he is," his mom says.

Another child using hyperbaric treatments for near drowning is the face of our Kristi's Kids News 4 Tucson Lifesaver campaign. Nine year-old Ethan Bennett!

His insurance doesn't cover the cost, so Ethan's mom sells wristbands to raise money.
Click here if you want to help Ethan with his treatments.

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