Jackson youth makes strides after accident

Sunday, June 8, 2003

An 11-year-old Jackson boy who nearly drowned last week has made dramatic improvements in the last 36 hours and now is able to make voluntary movements with his hands and feet, his father said Saturday.

In addition, Andrew Tyler's relatives now have answers that explain the cause of his almost fatal experience. The boy was diagnosed Friday with Long QT Syndrome, which doctors said caused him to go into cardiac arrest and lose consciousness.

The syndrome, which affects about one in 1,000 people, is an electrical disorder of the heart that causes the heartbeat to increase, sometimes resulting in cardiac arrest, according to the Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes Foundation's Web site.

"It really needs to be known that this problem was a result of the Long QT Syndrome," said Ed Tyler, Andrew's father. "His coaches and teammates couldn't have done anything to prevent this."

Tyler said his son likely was born with the syndrome. When the heartbeat increases, the typical Long QT Syndrome patient normally has three to five minutes before cardiac arrest occurs. But because of the drastic change of temperature from the outside to the pool on Thursday, Andrew was in cardiac arrest only one to two minutes after the initial symptom began, Ed Tyler said.

Andrew, who was practicing with the Barracudas swim team at Jackson's city pool at the time of the accident, was taken to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis, where he remains.

Andrew has begun making voluntary movements in his hands, feet and face.

"He is able to respond to some verbal commands," Ed Tyler said. "Sometimes he can wink his eyes and move his hands on command."

Also, despite doctors' initial prognosis, Tyler's brain has not swollen, and the respirator that allows him to breathe has been turned down, said the boy's grandfather, Charles Breeden of Sikeston, Mo. That means Andrew is breathing more on his own.

"One of the doctors who did not give us any hope when Andrew first arrived told us today she was encouraged about his progress," Breeden said. "She said everything is looking as good as can be expected."

Tyler's swim team wore red bands on their ankles and wrote his initials on their backs at Saturday's meet to remember their injured teammate, and his family continues to rely on faith to overcome this difficult situation.

"We have people praying from here to China," Breeden said.


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