Ethan’s dad, Jason Fox, arrived at Merriman Park Elementary School just in time to ride in the ambulance with his son on May 29.
The fourth-grade boys had been playing football during recess, and Ethan had fallen while running with the ball. His head swung forward and struck his friend’s knee on the way down. His skull cracked on impact, and he immediately lost consciousness.
Jason tried unsuccessfully to wake him up in the back of the ambulance.
“I stood over him yelling his name and clapping,” Jason says. “He opened his eyes and stared to the side, but then his eyes rolled back into his head and I knew he wasn’t there. I tried desperately to get him to respond.”
Ethan had a ruptured artery in his brain, and the bleeding compressed his brain onto the brainstem. If he had arrived at Children’s 10 minutes later than he did, he would not have survived.
Ethan was in surgery within 20 minutes of arriving at Children’s. Neurosurgeon Bradley Weprin, M.D., opened his skull and stopped the bleeding.
But Ethan wasn’t out of the woods yet. The accident affected the area in the brain that controls speech. No one knew if he would have permanent damage until he woke from anesthesia.
“It’s hard to digest that you’re not going to know if your son will be able to speak or even recognize you,” Jason says.
Ethan started showing signs of waking up, but no one moved until Dr. Weprin said, “Ethan, if you can understand me, blink your eyes.” Two blinks from Ethan and the room erupted in cheering.
Jason breathed a huge sigh of relief. “This time when Ethan opened his eyes, I knew he was okay.”
Today, Ethan’s eyes remain wide open, and he talks plenty — about cars, sports and video games.
“We take things like hearing your child speak for granted,” Jason says. “Even now I have to catch myself and remember that life can change so quickly. Thanks to the care that Children’s gave us, our lives are back to ‘normal’—and we are forever grateful.”