A North Texas family is adjusting to life after a near-drowning incident caused severe brain damage to two siblings.
Two sisters, ages 2 and 3, grew up best friends. Their mother told NBC 5 they loved to laugh, play and were wonderful little girls.
But on May 16, 2008, while at their grandmother's Dallas home, the girls slipped into the backyard and fell in the swimming pool.
They were underwater for nearly 10 minutes.
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The girls' mother said she was out running errands when she got the frantic phone call. First responders told her the girls were unconscious, had no heartbeat, and were basically pronounced dead at the scene.
The girls survived, though life would never be the same again.
The girls, who suffered hypoxic anoxic brain injuries and can no longer walk, speak, or eat on their own, are now 8 and 9 years old. They undergo hours of therapy a week and like a lot of parents, their mother had no idea surviving a possible drowning could result in devastating consequences.
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"You see your kid, perfectly normal, and then suddenly everything is taken away," the girls' mother said.
Pediatric neurologists and Cook Children's Medical Center said brain cells begin to die within minutes if deprived of oxygen. Five minutes underwater can result in severe brain injury.
Pool safety experts recommend layers of protection around your pool, as in a pool fence combined with a pool alarm. Also, consider swim lessons. The Texas Drowning Prevention Alliance report that children are 88% safer if they know how to swim.
The girls are doing better than doctors predicted and their mother believes it's because of their spirits.
"Every day you see something little, but it’s an improvement, so it helps you a lot and it gives me more hope," the girls' mother said.