SARASOTA, Fla. - The father of 19-year old college football player Isaac Griffith, who nearly drowned in a rip tide off Siesta Key this week, spoke at a press conference Friday with an update on how the teen and his family are doing.
It’s been a long week for the Griffith Family. Monday evening, Isaac almost drowned in the Siesta Key surf, and by Monday night he was hospitalized under heavy sedation.
But Friday there is good news and hope for the Indiana University freshman and his family.
Isaac's father Shannon Griffith had tears in his eyes Friday, saying he is grateful to his son's doctor. “Thank you for taking care of my boy. That's what I'd say to him.”
He remembers getting the call from the emergency room. “It just dropped me to my knees, being that we were in Indiana and this was occurring here in Sarasota.”
He explains his use of Twitter that reached so many as he was boarding the plane was kind of a fluke. “I was just trying to communicate to some people that knew me personally, because the news was flying pretty fast back home. And I was concerned my parents, who I had not talked to yet, they had not known.”
His concern of not seeing his son immediately or knowing how dire the situation may be was valid. “My first concern was whether he was going to make it through the night or not. Frankly, he was dreadfully ill.”
Dr. Kenneth Hurwitz received the first call from the ER, where Isaac was stabilized. “When I came in, he was on a ventilator, he was partially sedated.”
The concern was not for brain function, but to suppress need for extra oxygen. Isaac was administered heavy sedation. “It was clear, he was struggling he had the breathing tube, he was on the ventilator, his oxygen levels were two low for safety.”
The first night in intensive care was key, says Dr. Hurwitz. Isaac was placed face down as a way to improve distribution of air and blood flow in the lungs. “We were very careful with the way we ran the ventilator, not to let the pressures get too high so we could avoid injuring him with the machines.”
Isaac’s dad, a man of faith, says this is what he felt when he looked the doctor in the eye. “That the next twenty four hours were going to be critical, where we were at when we had gotten there he showed signs of improvement from the time that he'd been there, so I know that we were on an upward trend.”
Both Griffith and Dr. Hurwitz say Isaac’s peak physical conditioning helped his recovery. “You know, an athlete has the will to excel and to win. And when that competitive nature gets into your spirit, regardless of whether it's on the field of competition, playing a game of pick-up basketball, it's a driving will to win.”
Dr. Hurwitz says he thinks Isaac is past the immediate danger. “He is awake, he walked a little bit today, he's breathing completely on his own…we're trying to get him to eat a little bit.”
“He actually came off the ventilator a little more quickly than I had expected, so that was good. That was two days ago, I think. Yesterday they kept him in intensive care just to be a little cautious, and today, we expect him to move out to a regular room in the hospital,” says Griffith.