News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Monday, November 25th, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's been almost three months since a local 2-year-old's life changed forever after falling into a fountain at the Augusta Mall.
Last week, the family moved back home, leaving the hospital for the first time in two and a half months.
"It tells her story," said mom Ashley Ishmael as she puts a necklace of beads over Alayna's head.
Every bead represents just one step on a long road for the little girl
"The green beads are for the MRI, ultrasound and cat scan," explained Ashley. "Hearts are from where her heart stopped twice. The lions represent her being on the breathing tube where the had to put it in three times and then the giraffe is for her being able to take it out."
It's a journey that started August 28th in the play area at the mall, a day that still replays everyday in Ashley Ishmael's head.
"Everything was fine," recalled Ashley. "I was playing with her and then she had gotten up into the top part of the slide playing with two or three other kids and next thing I know she was gone."
The whole event unfolded on mall security video as little Alayna ran out of the play area heading straight towards the fountain.
"I looked around and I couldn't find her so I circled around the play area twice and couldn't find her," said Ashley. "I looked in and around everything."
That's when Ashley started to panic. She said, "Something told me to go to the water so I went to the water and I couldn't find her. I didn't go around the whole thing, then I started asking some of the other parents if they saw her and they said no."
She then began to search nearby stores.
"One of the other moms came back with tears in her eyes and that's when I knew what happened," explained Ashley.
Her little girl had fallen into the fountain. A nurse walking by pulled her out and had begun CPR by the time Ashley made it to her side.
"She wasn't moving hardly at all," said Ashley with tears in her eyes. "She wasn't breathing. She didn't take her first breath until she got to the hospital."
To this day no one knows how long Alayna was underwater. But those minutes underwater changed the rest of her life.
"Before we even got to the hospital I thought she was not going to make it," said Ashley.
Alayna spent two weeks on a breathing tube at Children's Hospital of Georgia. She was then sent to Children's Hospital of Atlanta where they would spend the next two months trying to bring back the pieces of Alayna that were lost in the water.
She is now bound to a wheelchair unable to sit or stand on her own. Her mom says, "She's on a feeding tube. She can't take hardly anything by mouth."
But Ashley says she wouldn't be where she is today without everyone who stepped in along the way.
"They didn't give up on her," she said.
Last week, she took her first trip back to the pediatric ICU. That day became even more special when they added the final bead to her necklace; a smiley face.
"That hospital is amazing," said Ashley.
Although Alayna's come a long way, she still has a long way to go, but Ashley's looking on the bright side.
"I do get to teach her how to walk and talk and all that all over again with a lot more joy," she said.
When Alayna left the hospital in Atlanta she was starting to say words and swallow on her own. Since they got back Ashley hasn't been able to afford physical therapy here and unfortunately Alayna has lost a lot of that progress.
Ashley is a single mom who hasn't been able to go back to work since the accident.
They are looking for volunteer therapists or donations to get her the physical therapy she needs. They are creating a bank account at Georgia Bank and Trust called Alayna's Angels.
They also need things like diapers and wipes since she is no longer potty trained.
If you want to help out you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or the family through their facebook page Alayna's Angels: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alaynas-Angels/372037079565324