SARASOTA, Fla. (March 21, 2014) – An Indiana University football player injured in a swimming accident in Florida is out of his coma and is expected to make a full recovery.
Isaac Griffith is not out of the woods yet, but doing much better.
“He is past any immediate danger,” said Sarasota Memorial Critical Care Physician Kenneth Hurwitz, MD.
Shannon Griffith, Isaac’s father, said it’s a good day to smile.
“The power of prayer is all I can say,” he said tearfully. “The phone call my wife gave me at about 6 p.m. on Monday night was the worst call I ever got in my life. It dropped me to my knees.”
Dr. Hurwitz credited Isaac’s friends for getting him out of the water as quickly as they did. Five minutes without oxygen is all it takes, he said, to cause a severe brain injury and permanent disability. The heroic actions of his friends who risked their own lives to pull him from the rip current, and who then performed CPR until paramedics arrived, not only saved his life, but his quality of life.
“A lot of the credit goes to his friends. They put themselves at serious risk to help him. Two or three minutes longer and it would have been a different story,” Dr. Hurwitz said.
Griffith remains in serious but stable condition, off the ventilator and breathing on his own. He got up and walked today and is eating what he can. He was moved out of intensive care today to a regular patient care unit. He continues to be monitored and treated for pneumonia, lung damage and risk of infection from the salt water that was trapped in his lungs. His prognosis for a full recovery is very good. If all goes well, he should be discharged in a couple of days and be able to recuperate over the coming weeks at home.
“It’s a good day to smile” Shannon Griffith, Isaac’s father, told reporters when they commented on the relief he must be feeling knowing his son was well on his way to a full recovery. He thanked Dr. Hurwitz and the entire team of physicians, nurses, respiratory care therapists and others who have cared for his son since he was admitted to Sarasota Memorial Hospital on Monday afternoon.
“From the time he got to the hospital till today, the care has been nothing but tremendous,” he said. “Isaac has been winning little battles every day. I know we still have a few more to face, but we have tremendous faith in his care team and are very hopeful that things will be back to normal for him very soon.”
He was emotional when he talked about the power of rip currents. The family was aware of them from past vacations on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and how close his son came to drowning. He first learned of the accident when his wife called him Monday, about 6 pm. “It dropped me to my knees.” he said. “It was the worst call I ever got in my life.” He and his wife immediately boarded a plane to Florida and have been at their son’s side since the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
The outpouring of support they received from Isaac’s care team, and the many prayers and healing wishes from friends and followers on Twitter, calmed them, he said, allowing them to be strong for their son. Isaac was heavily sedated for several days, but has shown steady improvement since he was awakened late Wednesday and into Thursday. Doctors told the football family that the intense training Isaac and his teammates perform every day played a significant part in his recovery, which has been faster than Dr. Hurwitz expected.
“Not too many people walk away from that,” Shannon said, his voice choking up. “Because of his physical conditioning, the daily regimen, the cardiovascular and strength training, good nutrition – all those things, that’s how we win football games. For me, now, that’s how you save your life.”