Estes family learning how to recover from near drowning

Published 12:01 am Sunday, December 21, 2014

No one knows exactly how Jamie ended up in the pool. He may have followed the neighbor’s dog through the gate, which had been accidentally left open that morning, or he might have just toddled in on his own. How long he was in the water is likewise a mystery, though David says it couldn’t have been more than five minutes.

But the how and the why weren’t important at the moment. Pulling his son from the pool, David started performing CPR.

He had trained as a lifeguard when he was a teenager, but before that day David had never actually pulled anyone from the water.

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“I hadn’t studied it in years, but it all instantly came back to me,” he said. “When I would do the rescue breaths, I could hear the water in his lungs. I had trained and trained, but it was the first time I had to do CPR.”

The homeowners came out, and David told them to call 911 and take care of his two other children, who had wandered up the hill and were watching in his periphery.

The ambulance arrived. He rode to the hospital in it as the emergency medical technicians continued CPR.

When they arrived, Jamie was rushed into the hospital.

“The first five minutes, I couldn’t find anybody to talk to,” he said. “They were all in there with him.”

Later, in the closet with Kim, a couple of their friends joined them, their prayers punctuated by the sounds of the other doctors trying to save their son’s life.

“We could hear all of what was going on across the hall, waiting to hear anything positive come out of that room,” David said.

The helicopter arrived, and Jamie was airlifted to Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children at University Medical Center in Jackson. David’s parents — Don and Cathy Estes — joined David and Kim, and a deputy with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office drove them to Jackson.

It was, Kim said, the first time any of them had been inside a police cruiser.

Breaking the surface

Jamie entered the hospital at Blair E. Batson Aug. 13 completely sedated. He would spend a week in the intensive care unit and another week in the hospital in a room outside the ICU.

David would drive up every day, returning home in the evenings to try to keep things as normal as possible for the other two children. Kim stayed every night.

The days seemed endless, but the family’s faith helped them keep hope during the toughest times.

“The day they did the MRI was a very hard day, because it showed a lot of damage to his brain,” David said. “But I always felt a peace about it, like God was in control and he had kept Jamie here for a reason.”

The MRI showed a devastating brain injury, the kind that occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen for too long. As a medical professional, Kim knew exactly what that meant.