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'Every Parent's Worst Nightmare': 15-Month-Old Frederick Boy Nearly Dies After Falling At Pediatrician's Office

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A 15-month old boy from Frederick was nearly minutes away from death earlier this month after a fall at the pediatrician's office.

"It was every parent's worst nightmare," said Johns Hopkins Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery Al Cohen.

15-month-old Alec Penafiel was just minutes from death after a fall at the pediatrician's office back on July 10.

Alec Penafiel
Alec Penafiel. Photo contributed.

"I had my diaper bag on the floor so I looked down to grab keys and then as soon as I did that he was on the floor," Alec's mother Atheia Penafiel said.

He fell four feet from the exam table. He appeared to be doing okay, so he went home for a nap.

Hours later, however, that all changed.

"When I lifted him up, that's when he vomited, and then his right eye wouldn't open," Atheia Penafiel said.

Alec's head was swelling up, so his mother called for an ambulance. The paramedics determined he needed to be flown from Frederick to Johns Hopkins.

"An epidural hematoma in a child or an adult is a life-threatening emergency, and it's one we can't really waste any time," Dr. Cohen said.

Alec was diagnosed with a brain bleed and skull fracture and was rushed into surgery.

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The doctors at Johns Hopkins were able to remove a blood clot in his skull within just minutes of him nearly dying.

The message to parents; reach out to a doctor if your child has a head injury and isn't behaving normally, or if there are other warning signs.

"Vomiting that is progressive, crying or irritability that doesn't stop," Dr. Cohen said.

Alec's parents are thankful to the first responders, doctors and nurses that saved his life and hope that other parents learn from their very scary experience.

"You never know. Even if you don't see damage, you don't know. It's safe to just go," Atheia Penafiel said.

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