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Boy's family requests prayers to Kapaun

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, July 29, 2010, at 12:07 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, July 29, 2010, at 10:48 p.m.

Mason Medlam is in the fight of his young life.

But he has defied the odds ever since he was born five years ago, his mother said, and he's doing it again.

"He's still alive — they didn't think he would be," Sheila Medlam said of doctors at Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis, where Mason was taken after she pulled him from a farm pond about a quarter-mile north of their house near Colwich on Tuesday morning.

"They gave us a zero percent chance of survival."

He was still clinging to life Wednesday evening.

Mason has autism, and has never been allowed outside without supervision, his mother said. But the air conditioning went out at their house in the 4200 block of North 183rd Street West earlier this week, and the family put a fan in the window.

"He pushed the fan out and the screen and went to the pond," she said. "It's a horrible twist of events that is absolutely just stunning."

The family has fished and held barbecues at the pond before, so Mason knew where it was.

Children and adults with autism are often attracted to water sources such as pools, ponds and lakes, said Connie Erbert, director of CARE and autism outreach for Heartspring, a Wichita-based, nonprofit center for children with special needs.

Drowning is a leading cause of death for a child or adult who has autism, she said. Individuals with autism often have difficulty processing their environment — including the ability to identify dangerous situations.

Sheila was at work when she got a call from her adult daughter, who was home with him. When Sheila learned he was missing, she called 911 and told them to tell searchers to check the farm pond.

"I just knew," she said. "I had a feeling. For some reason, they started looking elsewhere."

She rushed home and went straight to the pond — and found her boy. The pond is fairly shallow, 20 to 25 feet wide and 40 feet long, authorities said.

Mason is surrounded by loved ones at the hospital. The family has "Yo Gabba Gabba," his favorite show, playing on television. His bear and ducky are with him in his bed.

"He's stabilized a little throughout the night," his mother said Wednesday. "They thought he would have cardiac arrest yesterday afternoon and it never happened.

"He's really done some surprising things."

The family has set up a page on the Caring Bridge website to keep people updated on Mason's condition. That link is: www.caringbridge.org/visit/miracleformason.

Among the visitors to the hospital has been Paula Kear, the mother of Chase Kear, who survived a devastating injury in a pole-vaulting accident in late 2008.

The Kear family is convinced Chase recovered because of Father Emil Kapaun, a Kansas native who died in 1951 after saving hundreds of American lives in prisoner of war camps in North Korea.

The Vatican is examining whether Kapaun should be declared a saint.

The Kears asked Kapaun through prayer to seek a healing from God for their son, and she brought the prayer to the Medlams at the hospital.

Sheila Medlam wants people to pray for Kapaun to intercede for Mason as well.

Her boy has always been a fighter, Sheila said of Mason, "and he's not going to give up now."

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