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Daughter's near drowning spurs Ahwatukee family to action

Alizah spent five days in the pediatric ICU, but she survived, according to her mother she has shown no ill effects from her drowning.

PHOENIX — An Ahwatukee family narrowly avoided a tragedy last summer and this year they hope their experience can save others from the same experience or worse.

July 31, 2021, is the day Brandi Stoll learned that not all drownings are fatal. 

Her husband, Sam and their four children were hosting another family for a simple backyard get-together. Stoll was talking with another adult when the youngest child, Alizah, did not respond to a couple of calls from her father. Stoll looked in the pool and saw Alizah floating face down. She wasn’t breathing.

“It was right in front of us and there were four of us adults out here and it happened,” Stoll said. “Drowning is silent. It’s not the screaming and thrashing that you see on TV or in movies.”

Stoll gave Alizah CPR and was able to clear some water out of her little body. Then Guadalupe Fire and Rescue arrived. Their personnel was able to get Alizah breathing again.

“She was screaming but they told me even though she was screaming she only had a 50% chance of survival," Stoll said.

Alizah spent five days in the pediatric ICU, but she survived, according to her mother she has shown no ill effects from her drowning.

“It wasn’t a near-drowning. It was a non-fatal drowning. She had no pulse when the firefighters arrived,” she said.

As a result of this incident, the family implemented new rules for the pool that they think may help other families.

“No distractions,” Brandi said, is number one. “They are not allowed into the pool gate unless there is an adult that is watching. They have to ask for permission to enter the pool. One of the adults has to be in the pool with them as well.”

The family also founded the Alizah Project for parents in similar positions as they were at the hospital. They collect donations of clothing, toiletry items, and blankets for adults who will, unexpectedly, spend days or weeks at a child’s bedside.

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