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Shannon Griffith was emotional. How could he not be? He knew how close he came to losing his son.
But now that Indiana freshman receiver Isaac Griffith is past the critical stage after nearly drowning, now that he's off the ventilator, breathing on his own, eating and walking on his own, his father could smile and give thanks during a Friday press conference in Sarasota, Fla.
“Isaac has been winning little battles every day," Shannon Griffith said. "I know we still have a few more to face, but we have tremendous faith in his care team and are very hopeful that things will be back to normal very soon.”
The younger Giffith was swimming with friends at Siesta Key Beach last Monday when he was caught in a rip tide and pulled far from shore. He was rescued by Mitch McCune, a friend and IU student. McCune got him to shore, then performed CPR until medical personnel arrived.
“Not too many people walk away from that,” said Shannon Griffith, the head football coach at Manchester College. “Because of his physical conditioning, the daily regimen, the cardiovascular and strength training, good nutrition -- all those things, that's how we win football games. For me, now, that's how you save your life.”
Isaac Griffith has spent the last five days at Sarasota Memorial Hospital's Critical Care Unit. Dr. Kenneth Hurwitz said Griffith “is past any immediate danger.” He credited McCune and IU football players Ty Smith and Nick Stoner with getting Griffith out of the water fast and performing CPR. He said five minutes without oxygen can cause severe brain injury and permanent disability.
“A lot of the credit goes to his friends,” Dr. Hurwitz said. “They put themselves at serious risk to help him. Two or three minutes longer and it would been a different story.”
The Griffiths have vacationed as a family on the Florida Gulf Coast. Shannon Griffith said they know about how powerful rip currents are and how close to drowning his son was. His wife called him last Monday about 6 p.m. with the news.
“It dropped me to my knees,” he said. “It was the worst call I ever got in my life.”
The younger Griffith is no longer in intensive care, but is in the regular patient unit, listed in serious but stable condition. He's being monitored and treated for pneumonia, lung damage and the risk of infection from salt water trapped in his lungs.
Hurwitz said the prognosis for a full recovery is “very good.” The hope is Griffith will be discharged in a couple of days and allowed to return home to recuperate.
Hurwitz said Griffith is recovering faster than he expected and also credited his conditioning.
Shane Griffith also expressed thanks for support, in prayers and from social media.