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Boy, 6, breathing on his own after being buried in sand dune

Published: Friday, July 19, 2013 10:25 a.m. CST

(MCT) CHICAGO — Nathan Woessner is sitting up, watching cartoons and — for the first time since being buried in a sand dune — talking.

The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital said the 6-year-old boy has been taken off a ventilator and is now breathing on his own.

Last Friday, Nathan fell into a hole as he followed his dad to the top of Mount Baldy at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. He was buried 11 feet below the surface for four hours before rescuers could get to him.

A post on the First Baptist Church of Galva website, where Nathan’s grandfather, the Rev. Don Reul, is the senior pastor, said Nathan was feeling well enough to watch television, sit up and speak.

Sand lodged in Nathan’s lungs created pneumonia-like symptoms and was flushed out daily. The young boy was kept sedated for the past week but is now recovering from that sedation.

“Nathan Woessner has been upgraded from critical and is now in serious condition,” Dr. Rachel Wolfson, who took over Nathan’s care this week, said in a statement. “He has been extubated, is recovering from sedation and continues to respond to commands.”

Dr. Tracy Koogler, who attended to Nathan over the weekend at Comer Children’s Hospital, said at a press conference earlier this week that Nathan is expected to make a full or nearly full recovery.

But he’s still got months of healing ahead of him, she said.

“Please continue to pray for Nathan and his family,” the church website reads. “Nathan has a little ways to go to make a complete recovery.”

Nathan’s parents have asked that the media respect their privacy as they attend to their son.

Reul said he believes Nathan’s rescue and survival was a miracle.

“We’re very aware that God has been good to us,” Reul said at the press conference. “And we say ‘thank you.’’’

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©2013 Chicago Tribune

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