A North Texas family hopes oxygen therapy will help their son who nearly drowned develop new brain cells.
Stephanie Reese, of Desoto, says her 2-year-old son Keion fell into the family swimming pool last year unnoticed and was underwater for five minutes.
"My oldest son, who's 21, actually pulled him out and I heard him scream. I freaked out," she recalls.
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Reese says Keion's heart had stopped beating for 45 minutes.
Miraculously, doctors revived him but severe brain damage left them with little hope he would ever be the same.
Reese documented Keion's first six months of recovery in this YouTube video, but now, a year after the accident, they hope hyperbaric oxygen therapy will put Keion closer to a complete recovery.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment in which the body is exposed to a greater-than-usual amount of oxygen within a special chamber.
The idea is the oxygen therapy can activate genes that promote cell survival and reduce inflammation, allowing the body to recover from wounds.
The therapy is FDA-approved to treat certain conditions like severe burns, but not traumatic brain injuries, however, in 2017, researchers published a groundbreaking case study about how hyperbaric oxygen therapy reversed the brain damage of an Arkansas toddler who nearly drowned.
Researchers say the child, who suffered severe brain damage after spending 5-15 minutes underwater, regained the ability to walk and her speech had returned to normal after 39 sessions in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.
"You're breathing in 100-percent oxygen while increasing the pressure, which causes you to take in about 15 times more oxygen. That affects the cells. The cells heal. This heals wounds, no matter where they are, whether it's in the head or the foot," said Mary Marchbanks, President and Chief Operating Officer of Willowbend Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, where Keion has had seven treatments so far.
"He is walking a little straighter," said Reese.
"He's babbling a lot more. We can't understand what he's saying, but he's trying to get those words out and it's only been seven treatments."
Keion will get 33 more hyperbaric therapy sessions, which cost $250 each.
However, Reese says it's a small price to pay to give her son a strong chance of beating the odds.
"When I realize how many children don't survive, I realize gracious God is."