Miracle baby!

Ken Knifong embraces his son, Kennison, after the youngster was taken off of life support systems at St. Luke's Hospital in Boise. The boy is expected to make a full recovery after nearly drowning last week in an irrigation ditch near his parents' home. Photo by Steve Rogers

Statistically, Kennison Knifong should not be alive.

In fact, the 17-month-old son of Ken and Colby Knifong, Enterprise, was clinically dead last week when he arrived by ambulance at Wallowa Memorial Hospital after being pulled from an irrigation ditch outside of his parents' Alder Slope home. Rescuers estimated he may have been submerged in the icy Cripple Creek for as long as 20 minutes before he was pulled from the water by undersheriff Steve Rogers.

"His doctor said he has had 300 cases of this severity and only three survived," said Kay Cummings of Weston, maternal grandmother of the child.

"This is truly our miracle baby. That is what they are calling him at the hospital. It's just wonderful."

The youngster, who apparently crawled off while his mother was gardening and fell down an embankment into the stream, was unconscious, blue and not breathing when Rogers and others started to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

This week he is expected to return home to the community where a prayer vigil has been under way since the incident occurred.

Other than a light injury to one of his vocal cords from a respirator that was inserted into his throat, the boy has no injuries serious enough to require further hospitalization.

"That's the only thing that's holding him up," said Cummings, who reported that doctors are considering whether to do surgery on the injured vocal cord. "He is walking, talking, and blowing kisses to the nurses. If all we have to put up with is a raspy little voice, we can live with that."

Cummings said tears of joy have been flowing steadily at the St. Luke's children's ward since Kennison arrived by air ambulance on the afternoon of June 23.

"Everybody that comes in to see him is in awe of this baby," said Cummings. "When people come in and see him they have tears in their eyes.

Initially rescuers suggested that the cold water - reportedly 51 degrees - may have contributed to the boy's survival by slowing down his metabolism so his body didn't need as much oxygen. Doctors said refusal of emergency medical technicians to quit giving CPR was also vitally important.

Cummings believes that the boy also received help from a higher power.

"People all over the country have been praying for him," she said, "You might as well call it what it is - a miracle."

Cummings said her daughter is doing remarkably well in the aftermath of the incident. Recently she has been taking balloons around the ward and giving them to other children who are hospitalized there.

"She says she is spreading love from Enterprise around that ward," Cummings said. "That is what makes her such a great teacher, she truly loves kids."

Cummings added that her daughter feels a strong need to write about the experience. She has also agreed to appear with Kennison on the Children's Miracle Network, a television program that raises money for sick and injured kids.

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