When a child’s life hangs in the balance, it’s all-hands-on-deck for emergency room personnel. On January 24, Gillian Burnett and Garth Saunders received the call every parent fears. Their 20-month-old son, Waylon Saunders, fell into a swimming pool at the daycare he attended and was underwater for about 5 minutes. When he was finally pulled from the freezing water, he had no pulse and was technically dead.
Waylon was rushed to the emergency room at Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital, a small local hospital in Petrolia, Ontario. Dr. Nathan Taylor was on duty that day, and he reports that staff members dropped everything when they heard the toddler was on his way.
“The other doctors that I work with at our family health team came running, left their offices, to help out,” he said. Waylon’s body temperature was so low when he arrived that their equipment couldn’t even pick it up. He was in cardiac arrest, and everyone from nurses to lab techs and EMS workers took turns doing CPR on the boy for almost three hours.
“It was truly a team effort: lab techs were holding portable heaters in the room at one point; EMS personnel also helped out by rotating through as compressors and helping with managing his airway and Nurses were even running to microwave water to help with warming,” recalled Dr. Taylor. “And the whole time we had support on the line from the team in London.”
Dr. Janice Tijsenn, director of pediatric care at Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre, was on the phone guiding the Petrolia team remotely. When the child’s body temperature rose and his heart started beating on is own, he was transported to London Victoria Hospital for further care.
“Waylon is a little fighter, against many odds he survived the night,” a family friend wrote on GoFundMe. “He was then put into a medically induced coma to ensure that his frail body is relaxed while his body fights for his life.” He was well-cared-for during that time.
“There was a big team helping him then, keeping him comfortable as his organs started to heal,” Dr. Tijsenn explained. “Then allowing him to wake up. He’s exceeded all expectations.” Just two weeks later, Waylon walked out of the hospital on his own two feet. His parents say the heroes who stepped up to save his life are not just heroes, they’re “God’s soldiers.”
“We are going home today!!!!” his mother wrote on Facebook. “Waylon is gonna have tons of appointments. Will have to remain on seizure meds But doctors are just blown away. This little boy has amazed so many. They have no explanations as to how he’s progressed so well and so fast.”
Waylon is now back home recovering and getting spoiled by his family, especially his big sister. The daycare owner has been charged with criminal negligence, and the family recently paid a visit to the doctors, nurses, and staff to say thank you for saving Waylon’s life. It truly was a team effort.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child, and in the case of Waylon Saunders, it also took a village to save one,” the hospital wrote. These dedicated medical workers really stepped up to turn a would-be tragedy into a miraculous recovery! Well done, everyone.