Boy, 2 1/2, to be taken off life support

Family to donate toddler's organs

July 21, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh and Jennifer Sullivan | Mike Farabaugh and Jennifer Sullivan,SUN STAFF

Weary from a lack of sleep and a broken heart, Mark Jasper spoke softly yesterday about his only son, Davon. He had spent most of the day in silence, thinking about the 2 1/2-year-old child who was attached to life support after nearly drowning Monday while on a field trip in Carroll County with his day care center.

By 8 p.m. last night, Jasper and family members had made the final gut-wrenching decision, asking doctors to remove life support from Davon William Jasper, allowing him to die and donating his vital organs to others.

"My son is dead," Jasper said, wiping away tears. "He's only on life support because I've decided to donate his organs."

The state medical examiner will have to make the official confirmation of death, he said.

As of 9:30 last night, the boy remained on life support, hospital officials said.

Earlier, Jasper wept as he described the boy and beamed through his tears as he reminisced about the past weekend spent with Davon. But this was one of the only smiles the 36-year-old had to offer yesterday.

Jasper dropped his son off at a West Baltimore day care center Monday morning and received a message about 4 p.m. that the boy had been admitted to Carroll County General Hospital.

He was only at the Westminster hospital for a few hours, Jasper said, and was flown to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore.

"My son has brain damage," he mumbled earlier in the day while standing outside the hospital. "Why the hell did I drop him off at the baby-sitter's?"

Investigation planned

State and local officials will investigate to determine "whether the child was properly supervised" by the day care provider, said Alan L. Katz, assistant director for the Carroll County Department of Social Services.

The little boy from the Forest Park area of northwest Baltimore was missing and presumably submerged for about 20 to 25 minutes before being pulled from 5 to 8 feet of water, said Tfc. Andrew Eways of the Westminster barracks.

Witnesses have told investigators that the child arrived at a popular picnic and swimming recreation area at Cascade Lake with a group of 31 children supervised by a handful of adults, possibly from three home child care providers.

Davon, who turned 2 in December, was in critical condition yesterday at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, where family members have stood vigil since Monday evening.

Jasper said state police told him day care officials reported that the boy had been missing for more than 20 minutes when someone pulled him out of the lake.

"I can't see how my son could be gone for 20 minutes without anyone noticing," he said angrily. "I don't even allow him to get 6 to 8 feet away from me for fear he might stumble."

The boy had been attending the day care center for more than a year and had never experienced problems, Jasper said. He said he had not spoken with the center's operators, adding that he was too upset to do so.

The West Baltimore day care provider, Basically Kids, could not be reached for comment last night.

Typically, a person of any age who is under water for five minutes or more without oxygen will suffer irreversible brain and lung damage, said Dr. John P. Straumanis, who works in the intensive care unit of the University of Maryland Hospital and is co-coordinator of the Baltimore chapter of the National Safe Kids Campaign.

Straumanis was not familiar with the circumstances in Davon's case and preferred to speak only in general terms.

Straumanis said it is not uncommon to restore a heartbeat in a victim who has been under water for as long as 20 minutes, but the critical issue is whether the reduction of oxygen and glucose in the brain has caused irreversible damage. In all likelihood, when cut off from oxygen for more than five minutes, the brain will not be able to sustain body functions such as breathing, he said.

Officials with the Carroll County Department of Social Services will investigate the incident with the Baltimore office of the Child Care Administration, a division of the state Department of Human Resources, authorities said.

According to information given to state police by witnesses, Davon was swimming in a small, roped-off shallow area of the 6-acre spring-fed lake, supervised by adults at about 2 p.m., when the group's supervisor discovered that Davon was not in sight.

With assistance from other lake visitors, a search of the water and the nearby grounds was conducted, witnesses said.

Witnesses also said that at least one adult with the group appeared frantic after the child was missing, Eways said.

A half-dozen witnesses described the adult as "running up and down the small beach area, asking if anyone had seen the boy," Eways said.

At one point, a staff member directed her to the concession area to have the child paged, Eways said.

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