A 10-year-old girl who almost drowned earlier this year is making an amazing recovery. She's had to relearn how to walk, talk and even eat. Destiny Harris fell into an icy pond in Henrico County last February.
It was touch-and-go for nearly a month. But NBC12 caught up with the brave girl, who says she was so close to the water on purpose. She says she actually jumped in to save her cousins.
It's the little things Destiny's family now appreciate so much more, like seeing her laugh while playing at the park. And how she can now take on the monkey bars with ease, but her father Lewis Lowry keeps a watchful eye nearby.
"I see you got your strength back there," he tells her.
It's this no-fear attitude and spunk that the Harris family believes got Destiny through one of the scariest times of her life. "They called her a miracle child," her father said.
In February, Destiny and other children wandered into woods behind the Treehouse Apartments off Pony Farm Drive. News reports originally said she was the only one who fell into the icy water, but she says there is so much more to the story.
"My cousins was on the ice, like they're skating, and then they fell through and I went to save them," she said.
She says she jumped in and got them out, but the water was too cold. "I got them out but I couldn't get myself out," she said.
She says she remembers being underwater and people yelling for help. A teenager jumped in, but couldn't get her. By the time firefighters got to her, she was underwater. It was now a race against time.
"Her heart was not beating off and on for an hour, her brain was not getting proper oxygen for over an hour," Dr. Duane Williams of Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU said. Williams was one of a team of doctors called in to try to save the little girl. "She was really sick," he said.
To save her, doctors hooked her up to a machine called ECMO, which worked her heart and lungs for her. "The kind of way to think about it is continuous CPR without having to do the CPR," says Dr. Williams.
Her chances of surviving, according to doctors, weren't good.
After four days, she was taken off the machine. But for four more weeks, she remained in bed, never giving up. "She fought, so if she's going to fight that hard, we're going to fight with her," says Dr. Williams. She pulled through, and now has scar on her neck from where the tubes were inserted.
Months after the accident, Destiny's father says he continues to be grateful to the team who saved his daughter. Destiny's recovery is not yet over. Doctors say while her heart and lungs are doing well-- it will still take time to see how the accident impacted her brain. There are some thing she has a hard time remembering, but not the reason why she jumped into the freezing waters to save her cousin.
Why did she jump in to save her cousins? "Because they are a part of me," she said.
Doctors say Destiny will continue to meet with different teams of doctors to monitor her recovery. She will also continue to go to rehabilitation.
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