Home' Scoop : Scoop 52 Winter 2010 Contents Everything after that is a blur. Jo-ann picked
Samuel out of the water, lifeless and pale. She
then ran to the front door and yelled out for a
neighbour to call the police.
"I started CPR -- I didn t know if I was doing it
right but I did it anyway, anything is better than
nothing. I tried my best, but there was no pulse,
no sign of breathing," says Jo-ann.
Her neighbour took over attempts to revive
Samuel. The ambulance arrived and after 13
shocks from the defibrillator, Samuel still wasn t
breathing. Jo-ann was counting the minutes
since he last took a breath.
"We know now that it only takes two minutes
of depriving the brain of oxygen for damage to be
inflicted, that the salt in the pool water eats into
the lining of the lungs, adding to problems down
the line. And the pool was heated; cold water is
better in these circumstances," she says.
After intensive care from the emergency team
in hospital, Samuel s heart began to beat on its
own, 40 minutes after he d fallen into the pool.
Michael took three hours to reach his son s
bedside after a colleague phoned telling him there
had been an accident at his home.
Jo-ann admits she feared her husband would
blame her for what happened.
"We found out afterwards that a panel in
our pool fence was damaged, and Samuel had
managed to push it over and toddle into the pool.
The council was supposed to perform a final safety
check after installation of a pool fence, but in our
case, and without our knowledge, that safety check
had never been performed," she says.
The doctor did not mince his words: Samuel
was critical and may not survive.
"Two days later, he asked us what our wishes
would be regarding Samuel s life support, as they
were performing an ECG to see if Samuel s brain
had died," says Michael.
But with the life support system switched
off, against the odds, Samuel began breathing
independently, giving his parents a grain of hope.
"Your expectations move all the time. Of course
our hopes at first were that he would be totally
normal, despite the fact the doctors kept telling
us he would be brain-damaged," says Michael.
"The goalposts would move again, so we d hope
instead that he might be able to walk, or perhaps
talk, or smile, and each one of those hopes would
gradually disappear until we realised Samuel would
never achieve any of those things, such was the
severity of his brain damage."
Four years later, Samuel, now six, requires
round-the-clock care and is frequently readmitted
to hospital for surgery and other procedures. His
parents energies are thrown not only into looking
after their son and two daughters, but also into
running the Samuel Morris Foundation, aimed
at preventing drowning and near-drowning of
children in Australia.
"A few months after the accident, we said to
ourselves that we could not let what our family
had gone through happen to somebody else," says
Jo-ann. "There was very little support there for
parents struggling with a disabled child, and if you
couple that with the public disapproval aimed at
near-drowning incidents -- the How could you let
that happen? syndrome -- many parents never raise
their head above the parapet to even ask for help."
Funds raised go to those directly affected;
for Samuel alone, $100,000 was needed for a
wheelchair, house modifications and medical bills.
The foundation also helps fund research into
hypoxic brain injuries, because, according to
Jo-ann, "I was sick of doctors telling me that they
didn t know what to do to help Samuel".
The Foundation has raised approximately
$500,000 for the cause.
Michael and Jo-ann admit it s impossible to
start grieving for Samuel while he s still alive,
despite the fact the boy they knew is no more.
"But the foundation comforts us in that we
know we have saved lives through it, even if it just
makes somebody who is reading this go outside and
pay attention to their pool fence," says Michael.
"We ve stopped asking, Why us? ," says Jo-ann,
"Life now is what it is. Samuel is comfortable and
when he s not, he has a sound we recognise that
tells us he s in pain.
"We ask him to try and smile and he screws up
his face. He knows his family, and complains when
he goes into hospital. We know he ll be lucky to
make it to his mid-teens, but we have consciously
made a choice to not let what happened ruin our
lives, or our marriage. We had the conversation
"It's impossible to start grieving
for Samuel while he's still alive,
despite the fact that the boy
they knew is no more."
holds the key to...
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