Children are one of the most important things in our lives. We love, care and provide for them until they are able to stand on their own feet. When we hear tragic stories involving children, we feel the pain that the parents are going through. Even if we are keeping our eyes fixed on our children, one split second is all it takes for them to get into something they are not supposed to. Eden Carlson’s story is similar to that. The 2-year-old girl was playing, when she fell into the pool and was submerged underwater for 15 minutes. Her story is not only a breakthrough in the field of science but it provides hope for parents who have been through similar situations.
In February 2016, Eden Carlson was playing, when she managed to get through a baby gate.
While Eden was playing, she somehow managed to get over the baby gate and walk towards the family pool. The 23-month-old child fell into the 5 degree Celsius water. It wasn’t until 15 minutes later that her parents discovered her submerged underwater. That moment is every parents’ worst nightmare. The parents cannot be blamed in all situations since children are unpredictable.
Emergency services were called in and Eden was rushed to the hospital. Two hours into trying to revive the toddler, doctors were able to get her heart pumping by itself again. Although she was resuscitated, doctors had little hope that she would be anything like what she was before.
Doctors deliver the parents their worst nightmare.
Eden spent a month at the hospital and showed no signs of recovery. She was immobile and constantly squirmed and shook her head. Doctors performed an MRI scan to access her injuries and discovered that she had deep injury to the brain’s gray matter, as well as loss of white and gray matter. As Eden’s parents started to lose hope that she would recover and be their little girl again, a team of experts from the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine and the University of North Dakota School of Medicine stepped in.
The treatment began exactly 55 days after Eden fell into the pool.
Researchers began treating her with two types of oxygen therapy – normobaric oxygen therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). In normobaric oxygen therapy, Eden was given oxygen, which is the same as at sea level and in hyperbaric oxygen therapy, she was placed in a special chamber and given pure oxygen at pressures higher than that of the atmosphere.
The normobaric oxygen therapy started exactly 55 days after the incident and she underwent the therapy twice a day for 45 minutes. Within just a few days of the treatment, Eden started showing progress. She started becoming alert of her surroundings, stopped squirming and moved her arms and legs. She was also able to laugh and grasp at things with her left arm. As the sessions continued, Eden started talking and her eye movements increased.
After 78 days, Eden began HBOT therapy.
When Eden started showing signs of progress, researchers decided to start HBOT therapy. 78 days after the incident, Eden underwent HBOT therapy with 45 minute sessions, five days per week, for four weeks. According to Eden’s mom, Eden was almost back to normal with just ten sessions, although she did have some trouble walking.
The therapy continued and 39 sessions later, Eden was able to walk and her speech had returned to normal. During the HBOT therapy sessions, Eden also underwent physical therapy to help her heal faster. Eden’s parents were amazed to see that she was back and her cognitive abilities as well as motor function was back to normal.
40 HBOT sessions later, doctors performed an MRI scan and observed that her brain damage was completely reversed.
After her 40th HBOT session, doctors took an MRI scan of her brain and compared it to the scan result after she drowned. Astonishingly, the latest scan showed that Eden’s brain damage was completely reversed. Researchers believe that Eden’s brain recovered because of the fact that her brain is still growing. The oxygen therapy promoted cell survival and helped her brain reduce inflammation.
“The startling regrowth of tissue in this case occurred because we were able to intervene early in a growing child, before long-term tissue degeneration. Although it’s impossible to conclude from this single case if the sequential application of normobaric oxygen then HBOT would be more effective than HBOT alone, in the absence of HBOT therapy, short duration, repetitive normobaric oxygen therapy may be an option until HBOT is available.” – Paul Harch; who treated Eden.
Science has come a long way since mankind first took flight. From cell regeneration to fighting cancer cells with the HIV virus, scientists are making breakthroughs every day. Let’s hope that these treatments and studies will help many more who are in need.