Boy injured by lightning discharged, surprising doctor with his recovery Annapolis youngster hurt while fishing during storm

August 21, 1998|By Paula Lavigne | Paula Lavigne,SUN STAFF

A 10-year-old Annapolis boy injured by lightning last week returned home yesterday to his family -- and pet turtles -- after a doctor in Baltimore said his progress exceeded her expectations.

Philip Knode was fishing off Naval Station Annapolis when lightning struck about 4: 30 p.m. Aug. 10.

Dr. Alice Ackerman, director of pediatric critical care medicine and the pediatric intensive care unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center, said the bolt ruptured Philip's eardrum, singed his head and face and damaged muscle tissue, including his heart.

He was taken to an Anne Arundel County hospital, then transferred to the medical center that day in critical condition. He walked out yesterday, followed by his parents and a bundle of silver-colored get-well balloons tied to a cart. Philip, wearing a blue Nike T-shirt and high-top sneakers, was shielded from reporters and passers-by as he hopped into the family's silver Ford Astro for the drive home.

Philip's family and doctor credited marina maintenance worker Ken Taylor, 51, yesterday with saving the boy's life. Taylor saw the lightning bolt strike near Philip and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

A lightning bolt can stop a person's heart and breathing. While the heart can restart itself, it will stop a second time if breathing isn't revived, Ackerman said.

Philip's father, Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer William Knode, 37, who has been stationed in Annapolis since January, addressed reporters yesterday during a medical center news conference announcing the boy's release. With a Bible tucked under his arm, the elder Knode thanked God and said prayer helped his son.

He recited Psalms 50: 15: "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me."

Knode said Philip's ability to recite five Bible verses he knew before the accident gave relatives hope that Philip's memory can be restored. Memory loss can be permanent in people injured by lightning.

Ackerman said the electrical charge in the bolt "scrambles" the brain, but doctors have detected no damage to Philip's brain tissue.

"He's bombarded with questions," said his mother, Lisa Knode, who has home-schooled Philip with the couple's other children -- Rocky, 17, Samuel, 8, and Luke, 6. "We're going to work patiently."

She said Philip was eager to go home to his family and turtles.

The boy's father said he and friends near the family's former home in Virginia Beach, Va., made a videotape of the boy's home and sites in their neighborhoods, focusing on Philip's favorite things, hoping to jog his memory.

His mother said Philip does not remember being injured.

The National Weather Service says that in 1996, the last year for which figures are available, 52 people were killed by lighting in the United States and 306 were injured.

Philip will receive treatment at Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute. Ackerman said lightning-strike victims can develop eye cataracts from the lightning's heat. She said he also will need periodic hearing tests.

"We've still got a road ahead of us," William Knode said, "but it's much shorter."

Pub Date: 8/21/98

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