Child's near-drowning inspires others to learn CPR

(Photo: "Dil Chora Hospital, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, 2010" by US Army Africa via Creative Commons)

Four-year-old Delaney Saslav is a typical little girl who loves Barbies and princesses, but the fact that she’s able to do so is nothing short of remarkable.

“She had a cooling blanket, tubes coming out of her mouth, nothing that looked like Delaney lying on that bed. It was day-to-day trying to make sure she stayed alive,” says Jill Saslav, her mother.

During a pool party in May, Delaney nearly drowned.

“In the evening she fell into the pool. We think she was under one or two minutes without oxygen,” says Dr. De Luigi, a physician at MedStar.

De Luigi, a friend of Delaney’s mother from college, jumped into action.

“She did not have a heartbeat. She was not breathing. She was blue,” he says.

De Luigi and Delaney’s father performed CPR until the ambulance arrived.

“He was like, ‘I think we lost her. I’m going to lose my little girl.’ I kept telling him ‘We’ll get her back. Just keep doing it. If we keep doing it you’re going to have your little girl back,’” says De Luigi.

And through their efforts, Delaney started breathing again.

Doctors say if the correct form of CPR wasn’t given to Delaney in those crucial moments after he accident, the prognosis would have been very different.

“Because they knew how to do it correctly, that’s what saved her life. Usually those who administer CPR don’t know how to do it correctly and it actually hurts more than helps,” says Saslav.

The most recent CPR guidelines begin with chest compressions to get blood flowing first. The way it’s performed is different for children.

“The depth of chest compression, rate of chest compressions and rate or breathing and depth of breathing,” says De Luigi.

As for Delaney, she could soon be back to the way she was before her accident, thanks to Dr. De-Luigi’s life-saving treatment.

“It’s a skill everyone should have, but particularly for anyone who has children,” says De Luigi.

Delaney will be released from MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital today after a long five-month stay. She'll continue outpatient therapy at home.

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