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Valley toddler makes 'miraculous' recovery after near-drowning

Erica and Anthony Alvarez, Justin's parents
Posted at 9:33 PM, May 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 07:52:36-04

PHOENIX — A toddler who almost drowned three weeks ago has made a full recovery, and now his mom is warning other parents to be extra cautious.

On April 18, then 22-month-old Justin wandered into the backyard of his north Phoenix home, away from his parent's surveillance for just minutes. After realizing he was missing, Erica and Anthony Alvarez, the mom and dad, quickly found Justin in the pool, floating face down.

"His father screamed 'Justin' and dove into the pool, then I dove into the pool," said Erica. "One of the worst days of my life."

After being pulled from the pool, Erica quickly began administering CPR, which would be one of the factors that ultimately saved her son's life.

Justin was rushed to the hospital, where he arrived in poor shape.

"He came into us agonal breathing, trying to breathe but not really with no real effort," said Dr. Rahul Chawla, a Pediatric Critical Care Physician at Banner Hospitals. "His body temperature was 31 degrees."

Justin's parents were by his side in the hospital overnight while Justin was in a coma. The next day, the toddler made an incredible recovery.

"His breathing tube was out... he was off the ventilator. By 6 p.m., he was eating chocolate pudding, asking for more," said Dr. Chawla.

Justin suffered no injuries or brain damage. He recovered fully and is your typical toddler who loves basketball.

"He’s a vibrant, exciting little boy who loves basketball," said Erica. "He’s very sweet but has an attitude."

Alvarez is sharing her story in hopes to bring awareness to another parent and potentially save a child from drowning.

"We’re loving, we’re attentive, we pay attention to him," said Erica. "But it takes just a second and he’s gone."

Since nearly drowning in the pool, Erica and her three other children are on high alert, watching Justin's every move. The family is installing a fence around the pool, multiple gates around the house and outside, as well as a door alarm for the back sliding door, alerting the entire house if anyone opens the door.

Justin's second birthday is coming up and his mom is inviting the first responders from the Phoenix Fire Department who helped save Justin's life to the party. She also adds that Sunday will be, without a doubt, the best Mother's Day ever.