Love for Atticus fuels blood drive _lowres

Advocate staff photo by Stacy Gill -- Atticus Southall, 4, in June at the Zachary Branch Library.

The parents of quirky, funny and sweet Atticus Southall, 4, are grateful to the Zachary community for its outpouring of love, prayers and support.

Megan and Ryan Southall brought their middle child home from the hospital Aug. 21, three weeks after a near-drowning.

“Thankfully, his daddy performed CPR and saved his life. He was responsive in the ambulance en route to the hospital and answering questions asked by the nurses and doctors in the emergency room,” Megan Southall blogged about her son on CaringBridge.org.

Atticus was admitted Aug. 2 to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, a place close to the Southalls’ hearts.

The family always has believed in the work of the hospital and made a donation to show their support in 2010. As a result, their names were entered into a raffle for the Miracle Mansion home in Zachary. And they won.

In a twist of fate, Atticus became one of the children in that same hospital, receiving critical care from a team of doctors and nurses.

Since the accident, Megan has blogged about Atticus’ recovery for friends and family who live far away or for those not on social media.

She wrote: “His brain activity and all neurological tests have come back fine. That was our biggest concern. Then it was concern for his lungs.

“In the words of the doctors, ‘they took a hard hit,’?” Megan wrote. “He was on a ventilator and sedated heavily so that his body could rest and his lungs could heal.”

The Southalls, both teachers at Zachary High School, were facing mounting medical bills. Through GoFundMe, more than $15,000 was raised to help the family with expenses.

As a way to say thanks to the hospital, two fundraisers have been planned. A blood drive scheduled for 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 8 will be held at Zachary High School with representatives from OLOL collecting blood from donors ages 16 and older who have photo identification and are in good health. Student IDs will be accepted.

The second blood drive is slated for 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 3824 Lee St.

Zachary students and church youth have been passing out fliers to businesses and residents. Also, the students will volunteer at both events.

“I am so proud of our youth for stepping up to help in honor of Atticus,” said Wendy Archer, who is helping organize the blood drives.

Archer’s child was taught by both Megan and Ryan.

She said both blood drives will benefit OLOL, and any funds raised will be donated to the hospital in Atticus’s name.

Friends and family have offered food, snacks, baby-sitting services and much more, but most of all, prayers.

“We have continuously asked for everyone’s prayers, and we feel the love and strength behind them,” Megan said. “Atticus is home now. He is certainly a miracle, and we are blessed. Words cannot thank you all enough for your prayers, love, support and donations. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.”

According to Megan’s update on Aug. 27, Atticus is being weaned off his medications and showing signs of improvement. He attends physical therapy twice a week and may be able to start prekindergarten soon.