Midlands boy who miraculously survived near-death experience honored as a ‘champion’

VIDEO: Midlands miracle boy named Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Champion for Prisma Children’s Hospital - Midlands

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It’s been three years since Lindsey Priester almost lost her son, Tap.

“We had just moved into a new house, we had a temporary roll-out type of a fence around the pool. The kids were in their room adjacent to me, there was nothing but a wall between us, I was in the kitchen and I heard them jumping on the couch and in the playroom, so I thought everything was fine,” Lindsey explained, “And then before you know it, I don’t hear anything anymore.”

Quiet. It was an unusual sound in the Priester household, especially with a then two and three-year-old.

Knowing that Tap and his sister, Gardner, didn’t pass her. Lindsey looked in the playroom, but her kids weren’t there.

That’s when she reached for the door and her heart dropped. The door leading out to the pool had been unlocked.

“Those are things you don’t think of. How can a three-year-old open the door and shut it behind them? But they do. These things really do happen,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey said it was the moment she reached for the door that she knew something terrible had happened.

“When I came out, he was floating, face-down, and I jumped in and I flipped him over and I screamed as loud as I could for somebody to please help,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey pulled Tap from the water and began CPR immediately.

The whole time she was calling out for help.

“I mean if you hold your child—if you ever hold a child, especially when they’re yours and they’re not alive and they’re two, you know that the only way to save them is to keep going and not—I wasn’t going to run inside and grab my cellphone, all I wanted to do was get water out,” Lindsey said.

A neighbor called 9-1-1 and paramedics arrived quickly – working on Tap until they could hand him over to Prisma Health Children’s Hospital Emergency Center.

It’s there that Lindsey met her husband, Tyler, who was out getting his oil changed when the accident happened.

“When I got to the hospital I was in complete shock,” Tyler explained, “Just seeing him with a breathing tube. I had no idea that it was going to be like that. And when I got there, there was a team around him, of nurses, doctors.”

One of those doctors was Dr. Derick Wenning.

“Tap was critically ill when he got to me,” said Dr. Wenning. “He was barely breathing and he had a very slow heart rate,” Dr. Wenning continued, “He was immediately getting resuscitated—kind of like, almost the full court press.”

While Dr. Wenning regularly deals with children and emergencies, there was a part of him that resonated with Tap’s case, as a father to a boy just about the same age.

“I wouldn’t be able to say that when I heard the call and I heard how old he was that I didn’t immediately think about that,” said Dr. Wenning.

Tap spent several days in Prisma’s pediatric ICU – days full of worry and uncertainty.

Lindsey and Tyler said it was during this time, when they felt so hopeless, that they leaned on their faith.

“We both fell on our knees and we started praying. And I looked up and I said to Tyler, ‘We always say that we believe that God’s going to take care of us, right?’ And I said, ‘This is the time when we either do what we say we believe, or we don’t,’” Lindsey tearfully explained.

But they did.

The Priester’s prayed.

Taking solace in their faith as Tap’s future remained uncertain.

“They thought for sure that he [Tap] might have some type of brain damage,” Tyler said.

But as Tap recovered he started to show some improvement.

And then, a little more improvement.

With each passing day, his little body started doing some pretty big things and somewhere along the way, it appeared, that against all odds, Tap would be okay.

When asking Dr. Wenning if he was surprised that Tap recovered without any problems, Dr. Wenning quickly interjected, “Oh, it’s absolutely miraculous.”

A miracle child, sure.

But fast-forward a few years and Tap is just a normal five-year-old boy – jumping around and playing with his sister and talking about hanging out with his best friend, Eli.

And Eli’s dad? Well, he happens to be a familiar face.

“I felt this connection with Tyler because I’m a dad to Eli who’s so close to Tap’s age,” said Dr. Wenning, “And I was thinking they could be on the same t-ball team and now they are.”

“We obviously formed a relationship with them after and they’ve been dear friends of ours now and Tap and Eli, his son, are best friends,” added Lindsey.

Even though the Priester’s left the hospital, the relationships that they made continue to stick with them.

Both Tyler and Lindsey have become strong advocates for the children’s hospital and now, Tap, is joining them, helping to advocate for the needs of children’s hospitals everywhere.

Complete with a cape and now a medal, Tap is officially the 2021 Children’s Miracle Network Hospital Champion for Prisma Health Children’s Hospital.

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