Science teacher Rich Morris’s family faces the unthinkableTuesday, November 09, 2010 By Kendall Barnes and Matt Miller
On Tuesday, Sept. 14, Julie Morris took her 20-month-old son David to drop him off at his grandmother’s house in Lafayette because she had an appointment. “It is a day I will never forget,” said Holy Family science teacher and David’s uncle, Rich Morris. When she arrived, she dropped David off in the living room to play and went upstairs to talk to her mother. After approximately 15 minutes, she returned downstairs only to find that David was no longer there. They proceeded to search and call for him until they discovered that he had opened the sliding glass door leading to the back yard and gone outside. They went out to the yard and discovered that he had fallen into the gold fish pond in the back yard. When they removed him from the water, they realized he was unconscious and unresponsive. After being taken to Avista Hospital in Louisville, David was flown to Presbyterian/St. Luke’s hospital in Denver where he received immediate medical attention. The doctors inserted a breathing tube because there was not enough air getting to his lungs. This allowed a ventilator to pump air into the lungs. Eventually, the ventilator was removed, and David was placed on a trach (tracheotomy) tube to assist with breathing and swallowing. They also attached a feeding tube to his stomach through which they feed him three meals daily. According to Morris, the trach tube must be cleaned often to ensure the air path is cleared because it can become clogged with mucus and saliva. Morris said he had to clean the tube and as he was doing it, David had two tears rolling down his face. It was heartbreaking and devastating to see him respond to the trach clean the way he did,” said Morris. “It is agonizing to see him that way.” Throughout this experience, Morris says he has been blown away by his brother and sister-in-law’s faith. “During these extremely trying times my brother and his wife have been extremely strong in relying on our savior,” said Morris. He has also expressed his gratefulness to the Holy Family community for their support during this time. “Thanks for all your support and generosity throughout this time. I am overwhelmed with selfless acts of kindness,” he said. Although the doctors were unable to determine the length David will be in a coma, they said if or when he woke up there would be brain damage, but they did not know to what extent. “The doctors said that because of his young age, he may have been able to cope with the damage better than an adult because his brain can alter itself to function with it issues,” said Morris. Unfortunately, the Morris family was without insurance for about six months prior to this tragedy because David’s father, Brian Morris, was going through a job change and has been in the process of getting insurance again. In support of the family, there was a fundraising event held on Sunday, Oct. 10, at the Elks Club in Louisville. The Elks Club offered to do the fundraiser for free. The fundraiser was a spaghetti dinner accompanied by an auction. There was also an online auction. Everything at this event was donated. Morris said about 1,200 people attended, and they raised approximately $30,000 to place toward the family’s medical bills. Although this event was highly successful, it will only cover a fraction of the costs. There has already been an estimated $1 million charge in medical bills, according to Morris. This includes purchasing the equipment that was needed to take home when he was released. Exactly one month after his accident, on Oct. 14, David was released from the hospital and taken home where his parents will care for him. “The hardest part for my sister-in-law was taking all the toys out of the bins and replacing them with medical supplies,” said Morris Morris said that although he was still in a coma, David could recognize voices that are familiar to him, and he also had some reflexes allowing him to know when he is being touched by someone. He moved occasionally; however, he was still not awake. Morris said the family has definitely suffered, but all they can do is leave it in God’s hands now. “We have become closer as a family.” said Morris. The night after David slipped into the coma, most of the Morris family came to Colorado from Maryland. “Everyone came but my dad. He has bad health and was upset when he couldn’t come out to see David,” said Morris. David’s grandmother, Morris’s mother, stayed close to his bedside for three weeks. “She was devastated, but stayed with him the whole time,” said Morris. Once David was back at home, he required round-the-clock care by his parents and other volunteers who were trained to care for him. Caring for David could be stressful and exhausting. “ We had a little panic moment when his trach got plugged and he couldn't breathe,” said his mother Julie, “but thankfully I was right there and was able to clear it quickly.” Unfortunately, David took a turn for the worse this week. On Tuesday his parents took him back to Avista Hospital where the doctors confirmed that David is now having seizures. According to Morris, this means that David’s chances of survival have diminished. “He has extensive brain damage and isn’t expected to live. God is taking him to be angel in heaven,” said Morris. David’s mother Julie had this to say Tuesday night: “ Well, the news today was not good. The MRI showed widespread and unrecoverable damage to David's brain. We don't know how much longer we will have our baby with us, but we pray that David will not suffer much longer. The Lord has blessed us with every minute we have had to love and care for David. We will continue to m ake him as comfortable as possible until God chooses to bring him home to Heaven.” Morris asks that we as a community continue to pray for David and for his family.