Mother's quick actions save drowning toddler

June 12, 1991|By Dan Thanh Dang

Kathy George was putting the finishing touches on her family's Sunday picnic when her 7-year-old son, Glenn, screamed: "T-T drowned!"

Looking around the big Pasadena backyard toward the 4-foot, above-ground pool, she couldn't find "T-T," her 2-year-old son, Theodore. The picnic was at the home of the children's grandparents.

"I gave up. I didn't think he was going to make it," said Ms. George, who lives with her two sons in Curtis Bay. "I think it's just a miracle. I can't believe that he's here now."

Doctors said they believe T-T is alive today because Ms. George -- as she recalled the rescue -- "jumped up the ladder, landed in the water and pulled him out. It couldn't have taken more than a few seconds, I felt like I had flown to the pool."

Ms. George tried to perform CPR. Theodore's grandmother ran to call 911 and then screamed for her neighbor, Baltimore firefighter Frederick Hyde, to help.

Theodore was revived, and within minutes a helicopter with paramedics landed on a nearby street, waiting to rush the child to Johns Hopkins Pediatric Emergency Shock Unit.

By yesterday, to the surprise of doctors and his family, T-T was ready to go home to Curtis Bay.

Doctors credit the speedy recovery to the relatively good condition in which T-T arrived.

"He was still responsive," said Dr. Mark Helfaer, the physician who treated Theodore. "It's very difficult to predict how long he was [unconscious] . . . it couldn't have been longer than eight minutes."

Those eight minutes turned a casual Sunday afternoon cookout with the family of Ms. George's boyfriend into a nightmare.

All she remembers is seeing Theodore face down in the water with his sandals still on.

"I tried to do CPR while grandmom ran to call 911," she said. "He vomited and tried to breathe. He looked so white, I kept thinking, 'He's gone, he's gone.' "

Theodore Sanford III -- Ms. George's boyfriend and young Theodore's father -- also tried to get T-T to breathe until Mr. Hyde showed upand had success.

Mr. Hyde, who lives behind the Sanfords, said he rushed out when he heard the grandmother's screams.

"He was lifeless when I got to him. Time just went by so fast," the city firefighter said. "I knew I had to work quickly."

After the helicopter landed and whisked Theodore to Hopkins, Sue Sanford, Theodore's grandmother, drove the boy's parents to the hospital.

"As I drove Kathy and Teddy, all I wanted to do was scream, yell, cry, and pray," Mrs. Sanford said. "I wasn't speeding, but I must admit I went through a couple of red lights. . . . I could hear Kathy in the back seat talking to herself and his father, asking, 'Why, why, why my baby?'

"I didn't know, but I did know that we had to leave it up to God."

After one day at the hospital, at about 3 p.m. Monday, the boy woke up and said: "Mom-Mom."

Said Ms. George: "When I heard him say that, I felt like crying for four hours straight. It was the most wonderful thing. I can't imagine living without my son."

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