An Arkansas family says their 3-year-old is “miraculously [coming] back to life” after she was left with brain damage after nearly drowning in a pool more than a year ago.
“Her personality is definitely back; she’s got her sense of humor back," mom Kristal Carlson of Fayetteville told InsideEdition.com. "She’s into everything. She’s a little wobbly on her feet but she’s getting better all the time."
With some help from physical therapy, 3-year-old Eden Carlson is even learning to walk, but continues to use a walker or the support of another person’s hand.
In February 2016, just before her first birthday, little Eden was declared brain damaged.
“Brain injuries are very scary, it’s very scary,” Carlson said. “[But] we’ve seen her miraculously heal her body in the hospital.”
Carlson recalled coming out of the shower and spotting Eden Carlson struggling in the pool after breaking out of the baby gate.
“I was completely panicked. Completely panicked,” Carlson recalled. “My kids heard me scream.”
Eden’s sister, who was 19 at the time, called 911.
She survived the doctor’s first hypothesis that she wouldn’t live, but the family then had to tackle the following diagnosis that Eden may never be the same after the accident.
“When it was becoming clear that medically there was nothing else that could be done with our daughter […] we started getting online and researching different ways that brain injuries have been helped through different alternative methods,” Carlson said.
When they stumbled upon hyperbaric oxygen therapy, performed by Dr. Paul Harch of LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, they decided to give it a try.
Eden was first given pressurized oxygen twice a day, then pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber five times a week.
“Prior to [her first treatment], she had been uncontrollably squirming, moving side-to-side, and wouldn’t focus her eyes on anything,” Harch told InsideEdition.com. “What I wanted to find out was if she would respond to oxygen […] and how she might respond to the hyperbaric chamber.”
Although they were not sure the experimental treatment would help her brain injury, Harch said it became obvious after a couple treatments that it was working.
“Hours after the first treatment, they saw her improving, neurologically. She was not squirming as much. She started to focus with her gaze,” Harch recalled. “By the second treatment, it was very clear, her eyes were clearer. She was gazing, focusing and she had diminished with the squirming so it was obvious she was responsive to that dose.”
Weeks into the treatment, Harch said Eden started walking with her mom’s gentle support, and yelling, “I’m walking, I’m walking!”
“It’s cute as can be, but perfectly spontaneous,” he said. “It’s incredibly gratifying. You know, if my career and life ended tomorrow, this is all worth it. It’s a wonderful feeling.”