Pool drains suck. Just ask the family of the little girl in this story.
Pool-drain victim undergoes surgery
By Jeff Strickler and Susan Feyder, Star Tribune
Last update: July 04, 2007 – 10:29 PM
A 6-year-old Edina girl remained hospitalized in serious condition Wednesday after an unusual accident in which several feet of her intestine were pulled out by the suction of a swimming pool drain.
Abigail Taylor was injured Friday in the wading pool at the Minneapolis Golf Club in St. Louis Park and taken to Children's Hospital for surgery.
"It's a horrible, life-altering injury," said Robert Bennett, the attorney for Abigail's parents, Scott and Kathryn Taylor.
Bennett said doctors had to perform surgery to remove the part of Abigail's intestine that remained following the accident. He said it is likely that she will have to be fed intravenously for the rest of her life.
Bennett said doctors now are concentrating on preventing infection and managing pain, and are also deciding what course to take on further potential medical procedures to treat the injury.
Bennett said Abigail does not yet know the full extent of her injuries. "She knows she's been hurt," he said. "She's a strong little girl. How she extricated herself from that drain I'll never know."
Although some details of the accident are still fuzzy, it is known that Abigail was able to free herself from the drain and get out of the pool on her own without calling for help. As a result, the extent of her injuries wasn't immediately evident to the people near her.
In a message posted on the Caring Bridge, a nonprofit Internet site that offers free Web pages to families of people recovering from illness or injuries, the Taylors said the protective cover on the pool's drain had come off.
If so, the scenario of the injury fits a pattern that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warned about in a 2005 report, "Guidelines for Entrapment Hazards: Making Pools and Spas Safer."
According to the report, if a child sits on an open drain, the suction, which can reach several hundred pounds per square inch, can rupture the rectum and eviscerate the child in a matter of seconds.
There have been three such incidents since 1990. The most recent was two years ago when a 3-year-old was disemboweled by a hot tub drain.
None of those accidents was fatal, although in the same time span 13 people, most of them children, drowned after being caught in underwater drains.
Abigail's injury comes as Congress is considering new pool-safety regulations. Instead of having one main drain, both public and private pools would be required to have multiple drains with reduced suction. Owners of existing pools would be able to install safety release sensors that will turn off the suction if it the system is blocked.
The Minneapolis Golf Club referred calls to its insurance company, which wasn't open Wednesday because of the holiday.
Bennett described the Taylors, who have three other daughters, "as brave and optimistic." He said they are focused on Abigail's immediate recovery, her long-term future care and steps that can be taken "to make sure this kind of thing never happens to anyone else again."