SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) - A 6-year-old boy from West Jordan is fighting for his life in the hospital after nearly drowning in a Taylorsville swimming pool two weeks ago. Now, his family has a warning for parents.
Casey Malcolm was hiking with her son June 25th when she received a call about her nephew, Gage Bishop. She immediately rushed over to Primary Children's Hospital.
"We were being told from officials that he was underwater for about five to seven minutes and that he was revived. I heard later they had to use a defibrillator multiple times to bring a heartbeat back to him," said Malcolm.
Investigators said Bishop was under the care of a babysitter during the time of the incident. Malcolm said he has been unconscious since then and sustained severe brain damage.
"The doctors are telling us best case scenario that if he wakes up, he'll be on a ventilator for the rest of his life," said Malcolm. "We're trying to remain hopeful and hope that's not the case because we know miracles can happen. With him being so young, the mind is so unknown that we pray he has time to re-build, re-grow, re-wire itself and that he can eventually live a normal life."
She describes Bishop as a friendly, outgoing, smart, and ambitious boy.
"He wants to join the army and always talks about it," said Malcolm.
Malcolm said the incident has taken an emotional toll on her family.
"We've been at the hospital every day by his side and it's so hard," said Malcolm. "The doctors tell us that nothing's changing but we see these subtle changes and it gives us hope. It's difficult when you have doctors coming in one side of your ear telling you that you should give up and it's not worth fighting for. But we just feel so strongly that we should keep fighting. If his heart's beating, then why should we give up?"
Now, Malcolm and her family want to issue a warning to parents.
"Be very cautious especially this time of the year with the water and the heat. Children, they're just so curious and things like this can happen in the blink of an eye," said Malcolm.
According to the Utah Department of Health, an average of 26 unintentional drowning deaths occur each year in Utah. 43 percent of those deaths among children under the age of 18 occur in open water such as rivers, lakes, canals, and reservoirs.
Officials report there were 8 child drownings in 2017 and 12 in 2016.
Dr. Laura Brown, a general pediatrician at the University of Utah hospital said water safety is a conversation she has with parents everyday.
"It only takes a couple of minutes for lack of oxygen to cause brain damage so for most children, depending on the age and severity, lack of oxygen for even three minutes can cause permanent brain damage," said Dr. Brown.
She said the best way to ensure a child's safety is to take multiple levels of caution such as installing 4-foot fence and sensors around swimming pools.
"One adult should always be designated for each child. You can have ten adults and everyone's sort of paying attention and that's actually much more dangerous than just having one adult attentively watching that child," said Dr. Brown.
In the case of an emergency, she recommends administering CPR until first responders arrive.
"Even if you don't know what to do, start doing chest compressions. Ideally, start with 15 compressions and then 2 breaths and just repeat. Compressions will at least get that blood flowing again," said Dr. Brown.
If you would like to help with Bishop's medical expenses, you can donate to their GoFundMe page here.
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