With the permission of him and his family, I am going to tell you what happened to a patient of mine named Ian. Three years ago on a hot summer day, Ian went to the pool with his brother to go swimming. They played games, competing and challenging each other physically like brothers do. During a game of “How far can you go underwater?,” Ian’s brother noticed that Ian stayed underwater too long . Tragically, an 18-year-old lifeguard and an adult neighbor dragged Ian out of the water blue, lifeless and almost dead. Ian’s life was now in the hands of others, his neighbor and a teenage lifeguard. How quickly life can change!
Unfortunately, all of the pool water that Ian inhaled severely damaged his lungs; doctors just didn’t know whether the damage extended to his brain. He spent weeks in the pediatric ICU with all the advanced respiratory support the doctors could muster. The most extreme measures were used to keep Ian going. Things didn’t look good; the medical staff told Ian’s parents that he had just a fifty percent chance of surviving. While the family prepared for the worst, however, Ian fought back.
A month after entering the hospital, a frail and exhausted Ian went home with fairly good lungs and, fortunately, a great brain and spirit. His recovery was truly miraculous, a testament to his wonderful medical care, his religious faith, and his remarkably strong strength of character.
Knowing Ian’s story, I was thrilled when his mother called me recently to tell me that Ian has a summer job. Not only has he managed to make a complete medical recovery against very steep odds, strengthen his bonds with his family, return to school and earn good grades, but now he has a summer job as, of all things, a LIFEGUARD! Talk about giving back, this guy is AMAZING! When I spoke to him recently, he told me that he hasn’t saved anyone yet, but he is ready to return the life saving favor to anyone who needs him. I know he will.
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Written by Paul Smolen MD