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2-Year-Old Who Was Submerged in Lake Severely Brain Damaged

January 21, 1988

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A 2-year-old boy whose heartbeat was restored after he was submerged in an icy lake for 10 minutes suffered so much brain damage that doctors say he will never walk or talk again and may be blind.

″Now I realize just because he’s alive doesn’t mean he’s OK,″ said Diane Holcomb, the boy’s mother.

Jesse Holcomb was rescued Dec. 22 from Lake Lotawana, and doctors at Children’s Mercy Hospital initially were optimistic when he made progress in the first 48 hours after the accident.

But tests indicate that Jesse has suffered so much brain damage he will never walk or talk again, and there is some question whether he can see. He might someday be able to swallow, doctors said.

The boy suffered brain damage from lack of oxygen while underwater, and he also lost vital nerve cells, said Dr. Jerome Murphy, chief of neurology at Children’s Mercy.

Jesse’s parents were encouraged by similar incidents of children around the country recovering after nearly drowning in icy water. ″But now I don’t think he’ll ever be Jesse again - or anything close to it,″ Mrs. Holcomb said Tuesday.

″Sometimes he’ll look right at you, and you’d swear he was seeing you,″ Mrs. Holcomb said. ″Then you move away, and he’s still looking at the same spot.″

″He’ll be bedridden. I think it’s a forever kind of problem,″ Murphy said.

The Holcombs juggle feeding, bathing and administering medication to Jesse at home while caring for their other two sons, ages 4 and 17 months.

The family hopes to admit Jesse to a rehabilitation center or private home for further care, but he can’t be admitted to such a center unless his condition improves, Mrs. Holcomb said.

A trust fund for Jesse’s long-term care had raised more than $3,500 as of Wednesday, said the Rev. Franklin L. Marlin of Lake Lotawana Community United Methodist Church.


Editor’s Note: The Jesse Holcomb Fund is at the Bank of Jacomo, P.O. Box 520, Blue Springs, Mo. 64015.

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