Local Parents Raise Awareness Regarding the Risk of Infant, Child Drowning; Please Help Support Their Daughter’s Medical Journey

By: Rachel Norton
| Published 08/28/2020


THE WOODLANDS, TX – “We never thought it would happen to us,” said Tamara Lahey; harrowing words that her and her husband Mike wish no other parents have to ever speak. It’s been nearly three months since they found their 20-month-old daughter, Olive, submerged in the deep end of their family pool. She has been in the ICU fighting for survival since.

Here is the story of that devastating day, and Olive’s medical journey, written by her mother, Tamara:

“Around 4 pm on June 11th our baby Olive (20 months old), broke past the pool gate for an unsupervised swim, unnoticed. She was always so brave and a water baby at heart.

Everything is so fresh in my mind. I can't forget, even if I try. It haunts me every quiet moment. It wakes me up throughout the night.

It was a normal late afternoon. This Texas heat is so hot and it gets a little cooler about 4. I had just sent her and her older sister outside to water the plants. It was their usual chore that they enjoyed doing together. I was preparing for dinner in the kitchen, peeling some beets and sweet potatoes to roast in the oven. They were Olive's favorite. She likes them crunchy with just some salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I kept looking over at my sweethearts through the window. They were fine. Maybe wasting some water but they were smiling so it was worth it. Scarlett was giving Olive's stuffy raccoon a shower with the hose. It just took a moment. Maybe it happened when I turned away to wash my hands and put the peels in the compost container. I didn't notice she went to the pool gate. I still heard the water running and didn't look outside. I thought everything was fine.

I didn't know the pool gate latch was faulty. It looked closed from the visual inspection I did from the living room before I sent them out. I know how dangerous pools are and have always checked it. I just got used to it always being secure when I went out there. I felt like I was being maybe a little paranoid always doing that. What were the chances that this time when I didn't check it, it was not 100% secure?

As I was putting the compost peels in the container, my husband came out of the office. He has been working from home with the Covid outbreak. He came to see how dinner was coming along in the kitchen. We talked for a moment, maybe it was a few minutes, I don't know. I told him to make a chimichurri sauce for the veggies. I am so thankful he didn't. Instead, he went to inspect the water wasting outside, aka plant watering. I went back to peeling the last of the beets and then I heard a scream from the pool area. My heart stopped.

He found her fully submerged in the deep end. I am so thankful that he went looking for her. He ran with her body into the kitchen. All the veggies for dinner got violently tossed aside. He knew infant CPR. He started chest compressions and breathing. Foam was coming out of her nose and mouth. Her eyes were rolled up. I called 911 and got the EpiPen. The injections were not enough to start her heart. The paramedics arrived. They gave her more. They rushed her out the door into the ambulance. Her heart started beating faintly halfway to the hospital, but she still was not breathing.

My husband has not left Olive's side at the hospital. She barely made it through the first night. The room was so cold to induce hypothermia for helping her brain inflammation. Dozens of IVs were in every available vein in her body, pumping her full of pharmaceuticals to stabilize her.

The MRI shows that she has significant brain damage to her Basal Gangila, the coordinator of the brain which relays signals from the other areas. Her hippocampus and higher level thinking were undamaged.

That means she is trapped in there! She is without the ability to focus her eyes, move her body purposely, or express herself. I see her suffering in small silent tears dripping from her eyes as they roll back into her head. I can't let my baby live like that! Please help me break her free by healing her brain.”

There are different therapies that the family would like to try in order to help their daughter. LSU’s hyperbaric chamber in New Orleans has resulted in amazing recoveries to restore anoxia injuries. This would require two months of treatments, twice daily, which cost $10,750. The Lahey family hopes to provide Olive with four or more months of this treatment, and would need to find temporary housing in New Orleans as well.

Secondly, there is a clinical trial at MD Anderson that uses sibling stem cord blood to help treat anoxic brain injuries. The procedure costs $15,000 and insurance will not cover it. The Lahey family welcomed their newborn son this July. They spent $3,000 to save his cord blood, cord tissue, and placenta, in hopes that Olive can receive this treatment. Please consider donating to Olive’s pathway to recovery through their GoFundMe.

The CDC states that every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.

Research has found that taking part in formal swimming lessons reduces the risk of drowning among children aged one to four years. If you have a swimming pool at home, they recommend that you install a four-sided pool fence that completely separates the pool area from the house and yard. The fence should be at least four feet high. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches that are out of reach of children. Also, consider additional barriers such as automatic door locks and alarms to prevent access, or to alert you if someone enters the pool area. Follow this link for more ways to help you and your loved ones stay safe in and around the water.

“You don’t think that within the 15 seconds [your children] are out of your line of site that something could happen,” Tamara said. “It could happen to any one of us in our community … There isn’t enough awareness.”

To donate to the Lahey’s GoFundMe, click here.
They ask that you share their story, share your knowledge of any therapies that could help Olive recover, donate if you can, and please pray.

If you would like to cook or donate a meal for the Lahey family, please click here to become part of their meal train. Aside from the insurmountable grief that surrounds them, they also have a newborn baby to take care of, so meals are very much appreciated.

Woodlands Online would like to recognize Herb & Beet for providing this deserving family with a free meal and gift card. They are an example of what it means to be a caring business, and we are so thankful to have them as a part of our community.

Let us all come together to support this family and precious Olive.

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