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Video: Parents ‘grateful’ for ‘miracle baby’s’ milestones

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    >>> special series "today's update 2010 ." a 16-month-old brought back from the dead after drowning in his family bathtub. first, how their worst nightmare became a medical miracle.

    >> it was the typical saturday morning here at our house.

    >> it was her worst nightmare, while giving two of her sons a bath, the young mother briefly stepped away, got distracted. and when she returned, the unthinkable. her youngest son , 16-month-old bronson was submerged in the tub.

    >> he was white. his eyes rolled back in his head, his lips were blue and the bathtub was so full.

    >> her frantic attempts at cpr didn't help him and the paramedics could not revive him. when he reached the hospital, he was not breathing and declared dead on arrival .

    >> he was gone. it was so fast, i wanted to rewind and kept begging, please, baby, please wake up.

    >> doctors refused to give up. after working on bronson 40 minutes, they restored a heart beat .

    >> our sweet little boy laying there with a tube in his mouth and wires and ivs and i can't even count how many things he was connected to.

    >> for nearly two weeks, he lay in a coma, his parents praying at his bedside. then a miracle, he woke up and started to regain mental and motive function.

    >> you could see him in the beginning, lifting his chin forward and recognized me when i walked in the room.

    >> slowly but surely, the boy thought to be lost forever improved.

    >> they told me bronson would have to leave the hospital in a wagon, he wasn't going to be allowed to walk out of the hospital. but he had a mind of his own. and he walked out on his own power.

    >> soon after, we met the tiny boy who survived an ed against all odds.

    >> he looks and seems great, the same little boy you knew before?

    >> absolutely. almost unbelievable, really.

    >> matt and sarah are here, of course, along with bronson . good morning to you all. hi! i was watching your faces, matt and sarah , you were watching that piece and you got very emotional. seeing it and reliving it, i guess every time.

    >> it was only 10 months ago, any time we see the story again, just looking at his pictures, it's very close to the surface.

    >> yeah.

    >> he looks fantastic, your son. it's so hard to believe last january, he was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. how well is he doing?

    >> he is great. we are so grateful, so grateful. first of all, we're intensely aware not every parent who goes through something like this and finds themself in this unfortunate situation is able to experience the outcome they would hope for. we feel so grateful and so thrilled with the progress he's making. we know so many families have gone home with empty arms or gone home with children severely different from the child they had before their incident. this makes us that much more grateful and that much more thrilled with every milestone that he makes. so far, we've seen no indication he has any sort of long term effect.

    >> from what happened to him. he was, as i said, dead on arrival , 40 minutes without a heart beat . even when the doctors were able to revive his heart, get him breathing again, heart beating again, they were very concerned about brain damage.

    >> absolutely.

    >> how did they explain to you how bronson beat the odds?

    >> i don't know if there's an explanation other than the fact that we feel beyond anything anyone could ever give any sort of doubt to us, that it was a miracle. that miracle was brought to pass because of a loving father in heaven and also capable, competent --

    >> you can let him down.

    >> he's a wiggler.

    >> that's okay. he can go anywhere he wants. this is his studio, man. has he had to have any medical intervention since all this happened? what type of medical attention has he had?

    >> he's on a tracking program with the medical center where he was treated and provo early intervention, a team of occupational physical therapists that came into our home. when they came to assess him early in this spring, just after we brought him home from the hospital. they told us to be prepared he was on the young end of the age bracket, to qualify for their services in regular therapy sessions, he would need to score somewhere in the 7 percentile or be lope low 10%. we got his assessments back and thrilled to learn even at a young age, he was scoring in the 70th percentile on language and expressive language and we were thrilled as parents will he have that sort of function and capabilities in his life. he was doing beyond what we could hope for. every milestone that he has, we are so thrilled and incredibly grateful for competent doctors and quick medical personnel , emergency team members who came right to our home. the firemen are so dear to me, they'll be close to us forever. we got to take him to disneyland and the beach for the first time and he dipped his toes in the ocean, those types of things we thought we would never be able to do, we were able to do as a family. you can't put a price on that.

    >> you know, so many parents, myself included, you mentioned dipping their toes in for the first time, means so much more to you, because of what might have happened.

    >> absolutely. i think that's the message i would share with anyone. what i tried to share, when i was blocking through our experience at the hospital, life is so fragile and it can turn on a dime, when you least expect it. i lost my focus, i made a huge mistake.

    >> you don't blame yourself?

    >> absolutely, will always blame myself. that's a topic for another show. we'll talk about guilt another day. the point is he is doing so remarkably well, not due to anything we've done. it's just a miracle, and we're so grateful for that and we try to embrace every moment and celebrate every milestone.

    >> absolutely.

    >> with so much more joy and forgive the little things maybe we would have been hung up on before and embrace the messes and --

    >> with a 2-year-old, there's plenty of that. matt, does he have any memory what happened to him, that you know of?

    >> not that i know of.

    >> whoa!

    >> i think he's still a little young.

    >> he's fearless.

    >> absolutely fearless.

    >> i understand bronson -- going in the water.

    >> from the beginning, he's always loved to swim, always loved to bathe, always loved to be in water and around water. he's been fearless about it, which is maybe why i was a little 2too comfortable and maybe had that lapse in judgment.

    >> we're very happy for both of you. you're a lovely family. best to your children as well. happy holidays . thank you very much, matt and sarah and bronson . we'll be back right after this. [

By
TODAY contributor
updated 12/2/2010 9:56:27 AM ET 2010-12-02T14:56:27

Toddler Bronson Staker was an adventure-seeking bundle of energy on the TODAY show set in New York City Thursday: Sporting a fashionable fauxhawk and an impish smile, the 2-year-old wrested free from his father’s lap and made his way around the comfy couches, and became mesmerized when he spotted himself on a video monitor.

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Not bad for a boy who was pronounced dead on arrival at a Utah hospital just 10 months ago, an apparent victim of drowning in the family’s bathtub.

Toddler is OK after being pronounced DOA

Bronson, dubbed the “Miracle Baby” for coming out from the other side of death, made a return appearance on TODAY along with his folks, Matt and Sara Staker. They updated the story of a seeming resurrection that they originally told TODAY in March, a story that has doctors still scratching their heads and Bronson’s parents thanking their lucky stars every day.

TODAY
Matt, Bronson and Sara Staker

“We’re intensely aware that not every parent who goes through something like this and finds themselves in this unfortunate situation is able to experience the outcome they hope for, and we feel so grateful and so thrilled,” Sara Staker told Meredith Vieira Thursday.

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While Bronson protested to his dad “Put me down!” as he wiggled on his lap, the Stakers relived the moment when they had every reason to believe they had lost their youngest child forever.

In late January, Sara was bathing Bronson and his older brother in the family’s Salt Lake City home; she got distracted for a moment by one of the couple’s other children and left the bathroom. When she returned, she faced every mother’s worst nightmare: Bronson was floating facedown in the water.

“He was white, his eyes were rolled back in his head, his lips were blue,” Sara Staker told NBC News. She administered CPR to no avail, and an emergency medical team dispatched to the home had no better luck; by the time Bronson reached the hospital, he was pronounced DOA.

Still, doctors continued resuscitation efforts and, after 40 minutes, were able to restore a heartbeat. But the true miracle started after that initial success in bringing Bronson back from the dead.

Doctors told the Stakers that Bronson had likely suffered irreversible brain damage; however, there was an experimental treatment called therapeutic hypothermia that might improve his chances. The process involved lowering Bronson’s body temperature to 91 degrees and putting him in a coma to reduce brain swelling. The Stakers asked the doctors, “If this was your child, would do you do it?” And when they were told, “Absolutely, yes,” they gave the green light.

The Stakers watched helplessly as Bronson lay in a coma for 13 days, hooked up to more tubes than they could count. Doctors tempered the family’s expectations, telling them they would probably be taking home from the hospital “a 16-month newborn” who might not even recognize his parents, Sara told TODAY.

Even the most hopeful of physicians was amazed when Bronson was brought out of his coma — his eyes began tracking around the room, and he recognized his mom. Within a day, he was standing; a day later, walking. In just two days, he walked right out of the hospital under his own power.

TODAY
Matt and Bronson Staker

Upon leaving the hospital, doctors gave the Stakers a list of milestones Bronson might be reasonably expected to hit over a six-month recovery period. He hit them all in two days. Within a few weeks, he seemed hardly the worse for wear.

Speaking on TODAY Thursday, Sara Staker told Vieira she believes it was nothing less than a higher power that gave the family back their baby boy fully intact.

“I don’t know that there’s an explanation other than the fact that we feel beyond anything anyone could give any sort of doubt to us, that it was a miracle, and that miracle was brought to pass because of the will of the living Father in heaven,” she said.

Signs that Bronson remembers anything about his near-death experience are few and far between: Sara reports that the boy gets a little anxious if she leaves his sight, and he did experience some anxiety when he slipped a bit while taking his first bath following his near miss.

But water doesn’t scare him in the least: He’s taking swimming lessons and happily dives off a pool’s edge and splashes into the arms of his dad. He’s had his first swim in the ocean as well, Sara reported.

“From the beginning, he’s always loved to swim, he’s always loved to bathe, he’s always loved to be in the water and around water, and he’s been fearless about it, which is maybe why I was a little too comfortable [leaving him unattended in the bathtub],” Sara told Vieira.

That leads to the feelings of guilt that Sara still experiences from the fateful day when she almost lost Bronson. Speaking with Vieira, Sara snapped her fingers and said, “Life is fragile, it can turn on a dime,” and said of the day, “I lost my focus; I made a huge mistake.”

“You don’t blame yourself,” Vieira asked, trying to comfort Sara. But she responded, “Absolutely; I will always blame myself.” Recovering a bit, Sara said, “But that’s another topic for another show; we will talk about guilt another day.”

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“But the point is, he is doing so remarkably well, and that’s not due to anything that we’ve done … It’s just a miracle, and we are so grateful for that. We try to embrace every moment and celebrate every key milestone.”

She added the family’s thoughts are never far from the families who haven’t had the happy outcome theirs has.

“So many families that we have been made aware of have gone home with empty arms, or they’ve gone home with children who are severely different from the child they had before, and it just makes us that much more grateful,” Sara Staker said.

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