FULLERTON, Calif. – A toddler who was revived nearly two hours after she was believed to have drowned — and 40 minutes after doctors had declared her dead — was responding to touch and sound Saturday, hospital officials said.
Twenty-month-old Mackayala Jespersen was in critical condition but responsive a day after she was found in her family's swimming pool, said Children's Hospital of Orange County (search) spokeswoman Denise Almazan.
The child's family thanked the public for their "prayers and support," Almazan said.
Mackayala's mother found her floating face down in the backyard pool Friday morning, police Sgt. Sean Fares said. Police and paramedics tried to revive her, and rushed her to Anaheim Memorial Hospital (search), but doctors there pronounced her dead.
Forty minutes later, police Detective Mike Kendrick was conducting a routine investigation into her death when he noticed her chest moving as if she was breathing. He summoned doctors, who were able to revive her.
"It was a very emotional moment for everyone," said Fullerton police spokesman Sgt. Ron Gillett. "We thought she didn't make it and then she did. It was the lowest of the lows and the highest of the highs."
Mark Langdorf (search), chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, said it is not uncommon for toddlers to survive drownings after showing little or no signs of life, especially if the water is cold.
What was unusual in Mackayala's case, he said, was the time involved.
"If you had said she came back to life after 10 minutes I would be surprised, but 40 minutes is just exceptional," he said.