Walking into Dr. Abiodun Akisanya’s office in the Pediatrics Department at the Daniel Boone Clinic in Harlan, you would never imagine that only a few weeks ago he almost lost his life in a near drowning. Making a complete recovery, Akisanya said he is grateful to God first and second to his neighbor Michelle Brock for helping him to survive.
“God placed everyone in the right place at the right time,” said Akisanya. “What seemed to be an afternoon of watching my youngest son swim in the backyard pool quickly turned into a life and death situation.”
While it’s not clear just how long Akisanya spent under the water, if not for his wife coming from inside the home and running to the Brock home for help, Akisanya would not have survived.
“It all began on June 25 at about 8:30 p.m. at my home in the Woodland Hills section of Harlan,” said Akisanya. “I had returned home from working all day when my youngest son wanted to go swimming in an inground pool we have in our backyard. My oldest son was out of town. Usually my sons swim together and have lots of fun in the pool. My wife and I are just there to watch them swim because we can’t swim. This particular day, my son persuaded me to come into the water to play with him in the shallow end of the pool. After being in the water up to my waist, I thought I would take just a few more steps not realizing the pool dropped drastically from shallow to 8 feet deep.”
Akisanya said realizing he was over his head in water he began to panic and struggle in the water. He said his 5-year-old son thought he was playing, not realizing his father was about to drown.
“It came to a point it was more and more difficult for me to come above water to scream for help,” said Akisanya. “It was then I became so tired, lost my strength and began to sink to the bottom of the pool. My thoughts were of my family and how difficult it would be for them if I died and then my thoughts went to being with Jesus in Heaven, which had a calming effect to me.
“During all this time, my wife was in the house and came out to remind me to make a call to someone who had called earlier. It was then that she saw me at the bottom of the pool and began calling 911 while running to Jeff and Michelle Brock’s house across the street, banging on their door.
“I heard someone frantically knocking on our door and by the time I got to the door I saw Abiodun’s wife running across the street screaming for me to come someone was drowning,” said Michelle Brock. “I initially thought it was one of her children. When I arrived at the pool I saw one of their sons and she screamed her husband was at the bottom of the pool. I saw Dr. Akisanya lying on the bottom of the pool passed out. So, I just jumped in the water. During this time I was praying asking God not to let him fight me when I got to him. I didn’t know how unconscious he was. While going to the bottom of the pool to rescue Abiodun, God gave me strength above what I normally have. I was able to get him up out of the water on my first try. I got him into the shallow end of the pool and onto the concrete side of the pool. I told his wife to pinch his nose and give her husband mouth to mouth resuscitation. I was pretty breathless at this point. No water was coming out so we began to pray. The ambulance arrived very quickly. I knew he was alive but I was scared. I drove his wife to the hospital and then to Holston Valley. All I can say is God heard our prayers.”
Brock said when she was a teenager she was a lifeguard for about three years. She said when this happened, God gave her very clear instructions in her mind as to what she had to do and she just did it.
“I think that is what makes Harlan County such a wonderful place to live,” said Brock. “People are so willing to help when there is a need. I’ve had to depend on people before when I had a need and I know just how grateful the Akisanya family is for all those who helped in this situation.”
Akisanya was taken by ambulance to the Harlan ARH Hospital and then airlifted to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn. He said when he woke up he had difficulty breathing and was diagnosed with pulmonary edema, because of the fluid in his lungs, alongside a measure of pneumonia, which took some time to resolve.
“Everyone was looking at me and wondering if I would walk or other things, thinking I might even be in a vegetative state,” said Akisanya. “As of right now, I have fully recovered and have no problems whatsoever. God was in this. I so enjoy taking care of my patients and I am so grateful I am still able to do just that. It was only a matter of a minute or two and I would have died. God had everyone in the right place at the right time. Michelle had life-saving skills and the strength to pull me out of the water. The helicopter was in Harlan and able to transport me immediately. My wife came out of the house just in time to save my life. It was all taken care of by God. I am forever indebted to Michelle for what she did for me and my family.
Akisanya said the outpouring of prayers and kindness has been unbelievable. He said he was overwhelmed by the response of the community, co-workers and his patients.
“My advice to any parent is to learn how to swim and how to administer CPR,” said Akisanya. “You never know when you might have to go into the water to save your children or someone else’s life.”
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at email@example.com