AUSTIN (KXAN) - J.D. Hartman was an active, athletic 11-year-old; an older brother to three sisters. On a typical Saturday following a soccer game, he was out in the family's backyard, playing around the pool and hot tub. When his dad checked on him, something was wrong.
"He was on the bottom of the hot tub, and so I pulled him out and performed CPR," said John Hartman, J.D.'s dad.
John called 911 and J.D. was rushed to the hospital.
"At that time, probably like a lot of families, our feeling was, 'OK, he's alive, probably just has a little water in his lungs. This thing will all be fixed up and we'll be going home. We'll be back at school,'" John said.
But J.D.'s injuries were severe. The water damaged his lungs. He'd suffered an anoxic brain injury. J.D. spent a week in intensive care and a total of five months in the hospital. He was in a coma for a year. John says at one point doctors told the family they might consider withdrawing care. But that was no option for John and his wife Beth.
"[We have] strong faith. We said, that's just not our place," John said.
Instead, new life with J.D. began.
"We had to figure out what the new normal was," John said.
For Beth, she says one hard part is realizing you don't have control over everything your kids do.
"That was one of our rules: don't jump in the hot tub," she said, "Which, it's funny because J.D's my rule follower."
She says sometimes the feeling she didn't protect her child is a tough emotion to bat down, especially since she and John were the overly protective type.
"My children, I kid you not, all four of them would have life jackets on at the beach. I'm that mom," Beth said.
Life back at home was a challenge for the Hartman's. J.D. takes meals through a feeding tube and has occasional seizures, and takes medicines every day. He also wears orthotics, and uses several pieces of medical equipment.
But, the now 16-year-old has made a lot of progress. In his room, he's even kicking the soccer ball again. A hoist with a harness allows him to stand up, straps connection him to movable parts on the ceiling. J.D.'s now able to put one foot in front of the other.
"We've grown to love a second version of J.D.," said John.
Life for J.D. is now therapy, liquid meals, and nurses in and out of the home. But the key is, it's life.
A few years ago, the Hartman's started HOPE4JD , the organization's mission is to provide HOPE for families of children up to age 21 who suffer a hypoxic/anoxic brain injury due to a nonfatal drowning in Texas through financial and support services.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 6,000 children suffered a non-fatal drowning in the United States in 2011. Typical medical costs for a near-drowning victim can be up to $180.000 a year for long term care.
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