Sisters' Near Drowning Caused Severe Brain Damage - NBC Bay Area
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Sisters' Near Drowning Caused Severe Brain Damage



    Sisters' Near Drowning Incident Caused Severe Brain Damage

    Two sisters fell under water for nearly 10 minutes on May 16, 2008. The experience caused significant damage to the girls' brains. Now, their mother wants other families to teach pool safety. (Published Friday, May 30, 2014)

    A North Texas family is adjusting to life after a near drowning incident caused severe brain damage to two siblings.

    Sisters Lana and Safa are just one year apart and they grew up as best friends.

    "They loved to play, loved to laugh, I mean they were wonderful little girls," their mother Hayat Sadoun.

    But on May 16, 2008, while at their grandmother's Dallas home, the girls slipped into the backyard and fell in the swimming pool.

    They were underwater nearly 10 minutes.

    Hayet said she was out running errands when she got the frantic phone call. First responders told her the girls were unconscious, had no heartbeat and were basically pronounced dead at the scene.

    The girls survived, but life would never be the same again.

    Lana is now 9 years old. Safa is 8 years old. They suffered hypoxic anoxic brain injuries and can no longer walk, speak, or eat on their own.

    They undergo hours of therapy a week and like a lot of parents, their mother had no idea surviving a possible drowning could result in devastating consequences.

    "You see your kid perfectly normal and then suddenly everything is taken away," she said.

    Pediatric neurologists and Cook Children's hospital tell us brain cells begin to die within minutes if deprived of oxygen. Five minutes underwater can result in severe brain injury.

    Pool safety experts recommend layers of protection around your pool, as in a pool fence combined with a pool alarm. Also, consider swim lessons. The Texas Drowning Prevention Alliance report that children are 88 percent safer if they know how to swim.

    Lana and Safa are doing better than doctors predicted and their mother believes it's because of their spirits.

    "Everyday you see something little, but it’s an improvement, so it helps you a lot and it gives me more hope," the girls' mother said.

    For more information on near drownings, visit