BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Atticus Southall is your typical 7-year-old, with a love of books and reading. However, his story could be very different today. Just a few years ago, his parents feared Atticus may never be able to read aloud or do any of the things young kids do after a pool party turned into a life or death emergency.
"All of a sudden, the kids say, ‘Atticus, something is wrong with Atticus,’” said Atticus’ dad, Ryan Southall. “I go over there, see he’s floating in the pool, pull him out, perform CPR, get him resuscitated.”
An ambulance rushed Atticus to Our Lady of the Lake’s Children’s Hospital, where he was met by a team of specialists, including Pediatric Critical Care Physician Dr. Firdous Laique.
“He came in and got really sick with his lungs and needed to be on the ventilator and really had quite a few complications,” explained Dr. Laique.
Laique and others worked to address all of the issues caused by Atticus’ near drowning, which affected his heart and brain, and badly damaged his lungs. Over three weeks he would need a ventilator, various procedures, and an army of therapists to ensure he could swallow, breathe, and move again on his own. Laique explains treating all those complex issues was made easier because the hospital is filled with pediatric specialists.
“Having people at your fingertips, you call them they are there. This helps majorly,” said Dr. Laique.
Atticus’ parents say the constant attention and expert care at the hospital was a great comfort. His mother, Megan, recalls one nurse in particular who would sit outside his room in the ICU during her shift.
“For her, it was not good enough that she was right there across the hall where their station is. She came and parked herself, brought her portable monitors, and sat outside,” said Megan. “It was something so simple for her, but to us made all the difference in the world, to see her put as much care and thought and consideration and caring as if this was her relative.”
The care and resources that helped Atticus make a full recovery are why the Southalls now take every opportunity to support the new Children’s Hospital facility under construction. They also know every parent may need those same emergency services someday.
“There’s a reason that families of patients continue to give so much, because we know better than to take it for granted,” said Southall.
The family shared their story as a part the Children’s Hospital annual Mediathon, a two-day fundraising event supporting the hospital.
Unfortunately, the Mediathon does follow news that the former head of the Our Lady of the Lake Foundation, the fundraising side of the hospital, was terminated and accused of embezzling foundation funds. The hospital says it wants to reassure donors safeguards are now in place to make sure any money donated goes to the right place and they are hopeful they will recover the money allegedly embezzled.