LifeNets Helps Young Coma Victim in Texas

LifeNets volunteers Aaron and Michelle Dean perform this loving service for 10 year old Evelyn Cockerham in Texas who needed a prescribed hyperbaric chamber for treatment after being struck by lightning in August 2015. LifeNets owns such a chamber and Aaron and Michelle drove it to and set it up in Evelyn's home in April 2016. Aaron Dean is one of few people skilled in transporting and properly setting up this device and we are ever grateful for him to take this trip to help this young lady!

Posted May 6, 2016

Evelyn Pearl Cockerham, was struck by lightning at the end of August of last year.  The 10 year old has been in a minimally conscious state ever since but has been showing signs of improvement.  Her last EEG showed signs of minimal consciousness. She is able to blink her eyelids very slowly and wiggle her toes and frequently turns her head towards people and sounds.

Evelyn with mother Dana and brother looking on

She is at home with 24 hour nursing care and is having her medical expenses paid for by Medicaid, but there were still expenses to get her the care and equipment that she needs.  The family had recently purchased a hospital bed for her from a donation which was a major upgrade from the bed provided to her by her in home care agency.  

They were looking for a home use hyperbaric oxygen chamber but the expense was very extensive for something with no guarantee.  Even to try these treatments in a proper care facility would involve considerable expense for the treatment and extensive time and travel that would be difficult for the family and they are reluctant to treat a patient on a ventilator. They are will waiting for them to schedule her.

LifeNets heard of the need through Ben and Rebekah Mauldin, friends of the family through their home schooling program and church.  Since LifeNets had a unit donated a few years ago that has already helped 4 different families and was available, they made the offer to the Cockerham family, which accepted the offer.
Aaron and Michelle Dean, LifeNets supporters and the original owners of the unit to help Michelle’s dad after his stroke, brought the unit down from Ohio to Central Texas in April.  Shipping the unit would require folding it up, weakening the unit where it would be creased, so the Dean’s offered to take it to them. Aaron had set up the unit for others helped by LIfeNets, which involves connecting the unit to its air compressor and oxygen concentrator and getting zipped up into the collapsed unit with all the aluminum framing.  Once inflated, the framing is put together to hold it open to allow access to the patient.  With the aluminum skeleton in place, the unit is deflated and ready for use.

Aaron Dean sets up the hyperbaric chamber

Aaron put the chamber together, and the Dean’s explained the various pieces of equipment.  Dana Cockerham, mother of Evelyn, entered the unit. Zipped in, with compressors running, she fully experienced the Hyperbaric Oxygen unit to its full 7 psi level. 

Going through this process can be hard on the ears as it is like diving underwater as the pressure advances. Evelyn, just that morning, had estation tubes put into her ears to allow air pressure equalization. Being in a coma, she would not be able to clear her ears by pinching her nose and blowing like divers do during descent. 

The chamber is the largest portable unit at 3 feet circumference and 9 foot in length when inflated. It is big enough to allow for one of the parents, or one of her brothers to get into the unit with her along with her portable breathing apparatus. They can monitor her reactions from inside.

The parents will drive to a proper medical facility to do an initial test so Evelyn can be monitored by a doctor to monitor any possible adverse reactions. If as expected nothing adverse is found, she will then be able to do the full treatments at home in the LifeNets’ unit for free. 

Please join the parents and LifeNets in praying for Evelyn’s complete recovery.

Ben Mauldin Jr. helping Aaron Dean set up chamber

Michelle Dean taking photo of chamber