MATTOON -- Brothers Michael and Jon Fischer of Casey had just run into the water at the Lake Mattoon beach on July 13 when Michael collapsed face first.
Jon, 12, said he saw that Michael, 14, was motionless in the water, so he immediately splashed over to help his brother.
"I just wanted to turn him over and pull him up. I knew he would not survive face down in the water," Jon said of getting his brother's face above water. Parents Matt and Michelle Fischer reached the boys seconds later and hauled Michael onto the beach. Michael was subsequently taken to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center and then transferred to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis.
Matt Fischer said doctors at Cardinal Glennon later determined that Michael had suffered a blackout or seizure due to hydrocephalus, the buildup of fluid in the ventricle cavities within the brain. The excess fluid increases the size of the ventricles and puts pressure on the brain.
After Michael underwent surgery to relieve this pressure, Fischer said he was released from the hospital on July 19. The family of four gathered for an interview Wednesday afternoon at Lake Mattoon beach, where Fischer said Jon took quick action in crucial seconds as Michael was face down and inhaling water on July 13.
"I am just proud of the kid. He knew exactly what to do," Fischer said.
When the family parked near the Lake Mattoon beach on the afternoon of July 13, Michael said he and his brother bolted from the car and ran down to the water because they were so excited about swimming. Michael sheepishly said, "We both get into mischief."
Consequently, the two brothers were many paces ahead of their parents when Michael collapsed face first into the water. Michael said he was aware of collapsing, but could not move his body as water started flowing into his mouth.
Mrs. Fischer said they could not get a cellphone signal on the beach, so they put Michael in their car and starting driving toward nearby Neoga. She said they were able to get a signal on the road and they arranged for the Neoga ambulance service to meet them in town.
The Neoga ambulance took Michael to Sarah Bush Lincoln and he was transferred by the Casey ambulance service that night to Cardinal Glennon. Fischer said both boys have neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue, so they already had medical records and providers at Cardinal Glennon. He praised the ambulance crews and the staff at both hospitals for all of their efforts.
For his surgery at Cardinal Glennon, Michael opted to get a mohawk haircut to make way for the incision. Jon said he later got the same haircut because, "I just wanted to make sure he felt better about it."
Now that some time has passed, both Jon and Michael said they are ready to swim again and look forward to getting back in the water.
"You can't let one mishap stop you from doing things. That's not right," Jon said.