Father’s CPR credited with saving choking sonAt a time when every second counted, Jeff Jacobson didn’t miss a beat. In fact, he got it back. Doctors on Friday credited Jacobson’s quick CPR skills with restoring the heartbeat and limiting the extent of brain injury to his 10-year-old son Karson, who accidentally hanged himself in a rope swing at their Moorhead home.
By: By Mike Nowatzki , Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — At a time when every second counted, Jeff Jacobson didn’t miss a beat.
In fact, he got it back.
Doctors on Friday credited Jacobson’s quick CPR skills with restoring the heartbeat and limiting the extent of brain injury to his 10-year-old son Karson, who accidentally hanged himself in a rope swing at their Moorhead home.
Jacobson, a member of Fargo’s 119th Air National Guard, said his military training kicked in when he found his son not breathing the evening of April 1.
“As far as knowing what to do, I really don’t remember thinking about it,” he said. “It was just kind of autopilot. That’s just part of the training.”
An F-M Ambulance crew quickly arrived, continued the CPR and rushed Karson to Innovis Health in Fargo.
A brain scan showed Karson was suffering from hypoxic brain damage, which occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygenated blood, Dr. Tim Mahoney said.
In the intensive care unit, a surgeon inserted a catheter into Karson’s head to gauge the pressure on his brain, then placed him in a medically-induced coma to limit the brain swelling, Mahoney said.
With very limited motor response, Karson rated a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale — the worst possible score on a scale that runs from 3 to 15, Mahoney said, recalling what doctors had to tell Jeff and Karen Jacobson.
“That’s what we laid out to them: ‘He may never wake up,’ ” he said.
Family members stood by 24 hours a day as doctors waited for the right time to wake Karson, who was on a ventilator.
They tried on Monday.
“We were very excited when we started to wake him up and he started kicking us and moving all over, because that meant he was coming about,” Mahoney said.
“That’s a great feeling to see that he’s awake and he had his big smile,” Jeff Jacobson recalled. “Best feeling in the world.”
Karson’s condition improved throughout the week. His short-term memory is impaired, and he will need rehab, Mahoney said.
“But the remarkable thing about him is, at his age, he may come back to near normal — and then the parents will have to deal with him as a teenager,” Mahoney said, drawing laughter from family, friends and reporters gathered for a press conference Friday at Innovis.
Karson took off his F-M RedHawks baseball cap — a gift from the team’s mascot who visited him in the hospital — to show reporters his partially shaved head, and said the first thing he planned to do when he got home Friday was see his dog Daisy.
The shy fourth-grader gave hugs and handed out thank-you cards to Mahoney and F-M Ambulance paramedics Ashlie Melland and Ben Summer and field supervisor Wade Hockert.
Emergency room physician Dr. Tony Hamilton called it “a remarkable case where a series of fortunate events happened in the right order.”
“And that first few seconds is what made the largest difference,” he said. “For the most part, that’s why Karson is here and looking as good as he is today.”
For his father, the past week was “like a blur.”
“I was expecting the worst right from the start, so it’s just very surreal that he’s come out so well, and very thankful,” he said.
“He’s just our little miracle,” Karen Jacobson added.
Jeff Jacobson thanked those who kept Karson in their thoughts and prayers, the doctors and nurses and the North Dakota Air National Guard for giving him the training that saved his son’s life.
“Like we say, kids will be kids, and they’re going to do crazy things,” he said, “and knowing what to do as a parent is very important, because that 10 to 15 minutes, if I wouldn’t have known what to do, you’d feel so helpless.”
A benefit account has been set up to defray the family’s medical expenses. Donations for Karson Jacobson can be made at any Wells Fargo or Bremer Bank location.
Mike Nowatzki is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.