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Lawrenceburg child dies from swimming accident

June 3, 2010

A 6-year-old drowning victim from Lawrenceburg, Tenn., has died and his parents have made the decision to donate his organs to help other families.

Samuel C. Lavka

Samuel C. Lavka

Samuel C. Lavka died at 9:40 p.m. on Wednesday, June 2, at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. He was participating in a swimming activity at day camp at the Rotary Park Pool on June 1 in Lawrenceburg, when he was found unconscious in about five feet of water. Lifeguards were present at the pool. Local emergency personnel tried to revive him at the scene.

“We want parents to be aware of this tragedy and to be more aware when their children are swimming,” said Terry and Samantha Lavka. “We made the decision to donate his organs so that others can be helped in his death and that some good can be gained from this tragic situation.”

Samuel is being sustained on life support until arrangements can be made for organ donation, which is expected to occur later today (June 3) or tomorrow. Funeral arrangements are pending and will be announced by the Loretta Funeral Home. The family has set up a fund in Samuel’s name at Farmers & Merchants Bank (F & M Bank) for donations that will help go toward funeral expenses.

“Samuel was the family clown,” Samantha said. “He was such a loving and caring child, really one-of-a-kind. He was dynamite.”

This is the second swimming death at Children’s Hospital in the past week.

Thomas Abramo, M.D., professor and director of Emergency Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said Samuel’s death should be a warning for other parents.

"The No. 1, 2 and 3 prevention strategies are proper supervision," Abramo said. “Accidents happen more quickly than anyone expects. In less than two minutes under water, a child can lose consciousness. That's why, especially for toddlers, they should never be out of sight when near a pool or body of water."

Abramo says while a full two-thirds of all drownings will happen in the swim season, a majority of them are preventable.

From June through August, the Pediatric Emergency Department at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt will see up to 30 children who are injured seriously or killed in water-related accidents. About half of those will need extended hospital treatment at Vanderbilt, and two to three children die every year. That number does not take into account the children who die before they reach the hospital.


 

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