WACO, TX — A Lorena mother is sharing her story to encourage other adults to become certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
She believes the measure she learned for work saved her daughter's life.
Melissa Garcia said three years ago, when she lived in Las Vegas, her 3-year-old daughter, Maddie, almost drowned in a community pool.
“I 100 percent put the guilt on me because I allowed her to stay there 10 steps away from me. Let her sit with her feet in the water," Garcia said.
According to the mother of three, it happened while she was tending to her other daughter, who was a newborn at the time.
“It was five minutes that my back was focused just on the baby. I was rocking her around, walking her in the shade, bouncing her with the pacifier in her mouth. All of the sudden I hear my son, my five-year yell: ‘mom, Maddie is swimming with no floaties.' Immediately knew something was wrong because she doesn’t swim without floaties. She was terrified of water and she can't swim," Garcia said.
At that point, Garcia noticed her 3-year-old daughter was drowning.
"Her body was limp. She was discolored. That picture will never leave my mind. It has been three years and I still think about it every day," Garcia said.
Garcia said she performed CPR on her daughter for 12 minutes until paramedics arrived.
"When I checked her for a pulse and I couldn't find one. I couldn't stop. I couldn't give up on her," Garcia said.
She recalls doctors at the hospital praised her quick actions.
“They kept saying you are such a hero, you saved your daughter’s life. Of course that is not that I see it, because it was my fault, she was in that position to begin with," Garcia said.
Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Director Dr. Randy Hartman said starting CPR right away when someone's heart is not beating or is unconscious.
“In order for CPR to be most effective, start immediately, or as soon as possible, within five minutes when someone has a medical event," Hartman said.
He added CPR can help start the process of stabilizing the patient through medications and surgical interventions. In addition, he said using an automatic external defibrillator or AED kit can also be beneficial to use before the arrival of first responders.
“If you don’t start CPR, there is a chance that someone may have permanent damage to the brain, heart or a liver, or a kidney, they can no longer recover from," Hartman said.
Maddie suffered lung trauma and developed severe asthma but didn't have any long-term damage after the near drowning.
“For the most part, she is completely healthy. She is very active. Her lungs get tired easily but I mean if that’s the worse we have to live with, I’m grateful," Maddie said.
Three years later, Maddie is a cheerleader and a dancer. The 6-year-old recently graduated from kindergarten at China Spring ISD.
"There is something more special about every accomplishment and milestone that she does just thinking that she could've not been here to do this and not be able to see her do this, gets me really worked up," Garcia said.
Maddie is now taking swim lessons but she still wears floaties in the pool. Both Maddie and her older brother completed youth life saver CPR and stranger danger training last year.
If you are interested in becoming certified, the American Red Cross offers CPR and AED classes.
Other than learning CPR, Hartman recommends parents to put flotation devices on their children when they are in the water. In addition, he advises designating an adult to go in the water with children and rotate the person supervising every 15 minutes.
“All it takes is 30 seconds of not watching someone for something bad to happen. It doesn’t take a pool of water, a child can drown in one inch of water," Hartman said.
He also said putting a fence around pools and adding safety alarms, can also be other ways of increasing safety around the pool.