Cameras flashed and video rolled as Helena White entered a conference room at Batson Children’s Hospital on Friday. The 5-year-old shyly looked to her mother, Chasity, as she walked further into the room to give local media their first view at her remarkable recovery from a near-drowning accident on Dec. 28, 2014.
For almost two weeks, Helena’s condition remained atop national newsfeeds as the public watched for signs of improvement from the little girl who had been submerged under cold water in an overturned vehicle for several minutes before being rescued by good Samaritans. Another person who arrived on the scene was familiar with CPR and was able to help Helena regain a pulse.
Dr. Mary Taylor, head of pediatric critical care at UMMC, was working the night Helena was rushed to the hospital. Speaking to the media at the same event Helena attended, Taylor listed the several factors that contributed to what is expected to be a full recovery.
“The first point is she was wearing a seatbelt,” said Taylor, noting that the restraints prevented Helena from suffering more injuries that could have affected her recovery.
“Secondly, the person who performed CPR on the scene within the first moments of rescuing her from the car, that was critical to her good outcome,” added Taylor. “It was life-saving.”
Helena was then rushed to UMMC where she was awake and crying, which was a good sign, said Taylor. And once UMMC physicians started working on getting the child’s breathing back to the levels necessary to sustain a healthy circulation, doctors sedated Helena to help her lungs recover from their injuries.