Boy Swept into Lake Meets his Rescuers

Doctors say the cold water may have saved his brain


 
 

Deanese Williams-Harris | | Thursday, August 14, 2008


JEMS.com Editor's Note: Click here to read Chris Suprun's article, "The Cold Truth on Spinal Injury," on induced hypothermia.

CHICAGO -- Despite all the medical odds, a boy who was submerged in Lake Michigan for 15 minutes was able to play Wednesday and meet with the team of rescuers who helped save his life in mid-April.

"If there is a such thing as miracles, this would be one," said Dr. Leon Epstein, a neurologist at Children's Memorial Hospital on Chicago's North Side.

Lazar Ognjenovic was in his stroller when a strong wind swept him into the lake at Belmont Harbor. His grandfather, Stanko Bojanovic, 65, jumped in to save him, though he barely could swim, witnesses said at the time. Bojanovic was rescued as well.

When he first examined Lazar, now 3, Epstein said there was no evidence of brain function and he believed Lazar's chances for survival were slim.

"The only small glimmer of hope was his brain was not swelling," Epstein said during a news conference at the hospital Wednesday afternoon to update Lazar's condition. Lazar and his family were not at the news conference but had met with rescuers and doctors earlier. The family wanted to protect Lazar's privacy, said Kathleen Keenan, spokeswoman for the hospital.

Keenan quoted Lazar's mother as saying: "We're so lucky to live in the city of Chicago. It was truly a team effort that would [never have] happened elsewhere."

Doctors believe the chilly temperature of Lake Michigan was critical to Lazar's survival, but they cannot be certain. But they were certain of the rescue efforts of the Chicago Fire Department and the care Lazar received at the hospital.

The Chicago Fire Department's Air and Sea Rescue team had been practicing earlier that day and still had most of their gear on, so they were able to respond quickly.

"Visibility was very, very poor that day," said Brian Otto, a member of the team that pulled Lazar to safety. He recalled jumping in and seeing Lazar's flowing hair. At first glance, he thought Lazar was on a bicycle.

It took Otto, who has a five 5-year-old child, about three minutes to find the boy and get him above water. Paramedics vigorously worked to keep the boy's blood circulating and gave him oxygen until they reached Children's Memorial.

Epstein said that some children who go into cold water have a chance of survival: "If it was a warm pool, his chances would have been less. The cold is protective of the brain. But it's not clear why."

Lazar is expected to continue to make a full recovery, and his cognitive skills are strong, doctors said. The boy, who only spoke Serbian when he entered the hospital, learned to speak English from spending time with his nurses, doctors and therapists.

Lazar starts preschool next month, Keenan said. "He laughs, pouts and has time-outs just like any other 3-year-old," she said.




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Special Patients

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Simulation-Based Assessment Facilitates Learning & Enhances Clinical Judgment

Simulation is an educational tool that can be used to develop and refine clinical skills of the student in a controlled environment before they progress to becoming practicing clinicians.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Patient Dies in West Virginia Ambulance Rollover

Marion County Rescue Squad crew is injured in collision.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Delaware Bus Crash MCI

A view from the triage sector as EMS crews work on several patients.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

REMSA Programs Helps Reduce Hospital Visits

Community paramedic effort goes into service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

City Official Challenges San Francisco Fire Chief

Ambulance response times among problems noted by city supervisor.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Boulder Pins Colorado Hiker

Wilderness EMS team frees trapped hiker.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

North Dakota Oilfield Medics

Tactics used in offshore platforms tailored to the remote areas.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Delaware Bus Crash MCI

A view from the triage sector as EMS crews work on several patients.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >