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Wilson Memorial and Dayton Children’s Hospital Work Together to Help Save Toddler's Life

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A beautiful Sunday afternoon on September 8th quickly turned into the scariest day of Wade and Jamie Bowman’s life when their 14 month old son, Dillan, had a near drowning experience in their above ground pool.

A near drowning in a child occurs when he or she survives submersion in water, which was long enough to prevent oxygen from going to the brain, according to Dayton Children’s Hospital. Children are the most common victims of near drowning. About 50 percent of children who suffer a near drowning are under the age of four. When a child becomes submerged in water, oxygen can’t be inhaled and supplied to organs, such as the brain. Depending on the amount of time the brain went without oxygen, permanent damage may occur. Damage to the lungs can also occur due to inhaling the bacteria and other irritants into the lungs.

Fortunately, none of these things happened to Dillan Bowman.

After finding Dillan face down in the pool, his father jumped in to save him, and then tried to call 911 but his phone wasn’t working properly because it was wet. Dillan’s mother, Jamie, began to perform CPR.  She had taken the class as a requirement for an early childhood development program. The family quickly loaded Dillan and their other children into the car and raced to Wilson Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Upon arrival at Wilson Memorial, a group of medically trained personnel quickly took over. “Soon after the Wilson emergency department staff took over,” says Wade Bowman, “I saw my son spit up some water and cry out for the first time. Even though I was still the most scared I’d ever been in my life, it was one of the happiest moments of my life, to hear that cry and to see him start fighting for his life.”

Dillan was transported to Dayton Children’s Hospital by care flight. His vitals crashed several times on the transport, but the Children’s team did get him stabilized and on life support. “The doctor said at that point it was hard to say if Dillan would make it, and if so how much brain damage there would be. They were also sure pneumonia would set in,” Bowman says.

But the next day, Dillan was off life support and in his mother’s arms. There does not appear to be any brain damage and to date, Dillan has not contracted pneumonia. “The nurses are calling him the miracle baby,” says Jamie Bowman. “They were taking him for wagon rides and walks, showing him off.”

“We have nothing but good things to say about the care we received at both Wilson Memorial Hospital and Dayton Children’s Hospital,” Wade Bowman states. “The team at Wilson moved quickly and did a great job getting the water out and getting him to breathe some air. They also got him sedated and calmed down for all that was to come on the flight. They made the transition to Dayton Children’s as smooth as it could be. I thank both teams for their experience and I thank God for helping everyone make quick, good decisions.”

“Wilson has worked really hard over the past few years to improve their pediatric services, and the outcome for this child is testimony to that,” says Deb Jacobs, MS RN, community nurse liaison for Dayton Children’s. Jacobs currently serves as Wilson’s pediatric resource nurse through a partnership formed in 2010. “Wilson has always been one of our valued referral hospitals. The partnership has allowed them to collaborate with our experts to enhance pediatric education, training and services for their staff.” 

“I am so proud of my staff,” said Jeff Emrick, Wilson Memorial emergency department manager. “This is a case that would have been difficult even for a fully-staffed Pediatric ER – and thanks to the staff at Wilson, and Dayton Children’s, this child has an outcome that we can all be proud of.”

As far as Dillan, he is home and doing well.

“We have so much we are thankful for. Life can change so quickly,” Bowman says thoughtfully. “We were always concerned about pool safety, which is why we bought an above ground pool instead of an in ground, so we could put the ladder up. But this time we had left it down and got distracted with the busyness of life. It only took five minutes of distraction. A mistake we will never make again.” 

For more information about water safety, visit the Water Safety page at RedCross.org.