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Mom: Daughter pulled from canal has neurological damage

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 12:54 AM

A Zephyrhills girl hospitalized in Rochester, N.Y., after a plunge into the Erie Canal could return home in four to six weeks, but the still-comatose child likely will never be the same, her adoptive mother reports.

Yvonne Clanton wrote on her blog that 8-year-old Selah will require a feeding tube and "things are bad neurologically."

"Basically, Selah will live and breath on her own with a trach (since she doesn't cough or gag) feeding tube but all the movements we see are really basic brain stem activity," Clanton wrote.

Clanton's husband, Jon, 48, pastor of Grace Church of Zephyrhills, was pushing Selah and her brother, Sam, 8, in a double stroller about noon Aug. 15 when he lost control of the stroller and it rolled over an embankment into the canal.

Clanton went in after the children and was joined in the rescue by two police officers and three first-year medical students who were nearby, according to a report in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

The children were revived and taken to Strong Memorial Hospital. Sam recovered quickly, but Selah was in much more serious condition.

"Selah has her eyes more open than ever today which is nice but she still doesn't respond to the cornea touch," Yvonne Clanton wrote Wednesday. "She should jerk her head away or at least close her eyes, nor does she have the gag/cough that she needs. She has a little fever off & on still so please pray for her."

Sam and Selah are both special needs children. Sam, who is the Clantons' biological child, was born premature and blind in 2004. Selah has developmental disabilities. The Clantons adopted Selah and another special needs child, Sarah, a few months ago from the Ukraine.

A 16-year-old biological son, Steve, and another adopted special needs child, Shad, 8, from China, round out the family.

In one of her latest blog entries, Yvonne Clanton wrote that she and her husband made a commitment to the court in the Ukraine to be Selah's and Sarah's parents "knowing their disabilities, knowing they would need life-long care."

"Now life has changed dramatically BUT not our commitment!" she wrote.

Clanton also wrote that she appreciates all those who are praying for her family.

"It means so very much to me," she wrote. "And I want to testify to you that God is a faithful God. I can say that sitting beside my comatose daughter in the (pediatric intensive care unit), with a broken heart. He is still faithful."

The Clantons were in Rochester because for several years Sam has been treated there by a corneal surgeon.

On this most recent trip, Sarah, who also has vision problems, was scheduled to have a corneal implant.


rblair@tampatrib.com (813) 371-1853 Twitter: @rblairTrib

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