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After son falls out window, parents become safety advocates

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Medics rushed him to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland. Thomas couldn't move or talk.

"I remember asking the ambulance driver whether he was going to live or not," Becca said. She watched her son's eyes flutter close.

The driver didn't know and neither did doctors as they performed an MRI and measured his inner-cranial pressure.

Thomas spent his birthday in a medically induced coma and was paralyzed on his left side. For five weeks he did in-patient rehabilitation at Emanuel to regain mobility and spent another year out of the hospital doing occupational, speech, physical and vision therapy. Today, he is proud to tell people he fell out of a window, was paralyzed and after a lot of hard work, got better.

On the surface, he appears like an average, hyperactive 6-year-old, who loves to play and learn. However, he will never fully recover from his fracture.

"That part of his brain is damaged forever," Becca said. "We'll never know what he would have been like. He's definitely altered."

"I destroyed my son's potential life. It will scar me and it will scar him," Jason said. "I lie awake at night thinking how easily it could have been corrected."

When Thomas hits adolescence, his frontal lobe and executive functions will fully develop. Until then, the Keen Cunninghams won't know if he's lost any abilities in that area of his brain. As a kindergartner at Hearthwood Elementary School, he performs well above grade level and attends an advanced reading class.

Thomas can't play any contact sports, but regularly takes tennis lessons with his twin brother, Zane; the incident rate of concussion while playing tennis is very low.

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