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Thursday
Aug112011

Boy Who Survived Drowning Meets Rescuer, Condition Upgraded

Steve Mason/Photodisc(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- The condition of the 12-year-old boy who spent 25 minutes underwater in the Pacific Ocean and was presumed dead has been upgraded, and he has been moved out of intensive care.

"Dale's condition has been upgraded to "fair" by the hospital and is out of ICU," according to the blog, prayersfordale.blogspot.com, set up in his honor. "He's not able to get out of bed yet, but he's been receiving physical therapy. He slept well last night!"

The good night's sleep, and promising medical news, for 12-year-old Charles "Dale" Ostrander came just one day after he was able to thank the young heroine who saved his life in a dramatic rescue Aug. 5 off the shores of Washington.

"Thank you," were the words Ostrander, of Spanaway, Wash., spoke to 12-year-old Nicole Kissel when she came to visit him yesterday in the Oregon hospital where the young boy continues to recover.

Kissel was swimming nearby with her father in the waters off the coast of Washington last Friday when she heard Ostrander, at the beach swimming with members of his church youth group, yelling for help.

"I heard some boy say help, help me," Kissel said. Ignoring the pleas of her father, she used her surfboard to swim into the churning waves and grab Ostrander.

"When someone is about to drown or someone needs help you don't really think about it before you're about to help them," she said of her actions.

"I let him on the board first, and I got on top of him, grabbed the board and he said, 'Keep kicking, keep kicking,'" Kissel said. "When we were on that board I kinda shouted out to myself, we're gonna die, I can't die like this."

Just then, Kissel recounted, another massive wave hit them both and, while Kissel managed to make it back to shore, Ostrander did not. The boy remained at sea, pulled underwater for more than 15 minutes.

Once rescuers from a volunteer surf rescue team finally spotted Ostrander and managed to pull the boy from the sea, he was not conscious and not breathing, and no one expected him to live.

On the shore, Ostrander's family and the other children from his church youth group dropped to their knees to sob and pray. Also waiting on the shore were medics who immediately started CPR on Ostrander and transported him to a nearby hospital where, finally, his pulse returned.

A medical helicopter then flew Ostrander to Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, where he was placed in a medically-induced coma.

The prognosis looked grim over the weekend, and the boy's parents feared the worst.

"They never expected him to live," the boy's father, Chad Ostrander, who was at the beach at the time of the incident along with his wife, Kirsten, said. "They expected him to be a vegetable -- never walk, never talk, never say a word."

Doctors in Portland tried one more time to reach Ostrander on Sunday night, easing him off sedatives and calling his name. This time, the young boy opened his eyes and blinked.

"That was when we knew, hey, maybe there is a miracle that's happening here," Chad said.

On Monday, those same doctors who feared Ostrander would not survive, were able to remove the breathing tube that had been keeping the boy alive.

Dr. Benjamin Abella, director of clinical research in the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania, said Ostrander's survival may be due to the fact that the waters in which he was submerged were sufficiently frigid. Abella said Ostrander's age and overall health may have also been factors in his survival.

Doctors continue to caution the Ostranders that their son faces a difficult road ahead of physical therapy, and could have permanent brain damage.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio