Doctor: Nathan Woessner, boy buried in sand at Indiana Dunes, brain function 'normal'

Boy sedated, could soon be removed from ventilator

CHICAGO - A doctor who helped treat a 6-year-old Illinois boy who was buried in 11 feet of sand for hours at a northern Indiana dune said the child is expected to make a full neurological recovery.

Dr. Tracy Koogler, medical director of pediatric intensive care at the University of Chicago Medical Center, said Monday that Nathan Woessner may suffer some lasting lung problems from breathing in sand, but is responsive and can move his limbs.

The boy has been in critical condition since being rescued Friday from the Mount Baldy dune in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Koogler said Nathan is sedated and on a ventilator, but should be removed from it by the end of the week.

"Because of his lung injury, we are trying to keep him sedated with medication, and intermittently we have also had to give him medication to paralyze him," Koogler said. "We actually don't want him awake and following commands and so forth."

Koogler also said he'll likely be released from the hospital in 10-14 days and that all indications are that Woessner's brain functions are normal.

The boy's grandfather, the Rev. Don Reul, said he and his wife were on a trip when their daughter, Nathan's mother, called them. He rode his motorcycle 15 hours to be at Nathan's side.

"We cast our hearts in that direction, that he's going to be OK," Reul said.

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