New Orleans - When the heavy, circular door seals them in, Toni Noe stares into the face of her 3-year old son, Kayden, looking for signs of healing.
Toni and her husband Kyle brought Kayden from their home in Phoenix-- left their jobs and everything else behind-- believing that hyperbaric oxygen treatments in New Orleans may be their last chance to bring Kayden out of a coma.
They've come for the treatment administered by hyperbaric specialist, Dr. Paul Harch. Dr. Harch treats both children and adults who've had traumatic brain injuries-- everything from concussions to near-drownings. With Kayden, a severe case of croup caused his trachea to swell and narrow, making it hard for him to breathe. Then, an ineffective attempt at intubating him in the hospital deprived his brain of oxygen and left him in a coma.
That was a month ago, and when doctors in Phoenix said there was nothing that could be done for Kayden, his parents searched social media for someone who was willing to try. That's how they found Dr. Harch.
Dr. Harch's work with hyperbaric oxygen has been dismissed by some in the medical establishment, but his patients are believers. So is former LSU Head Football Coach Les Miles. Miles tried to get a hyperbaric chamber in the players' locker room, so they could be treated for concussions. It never happened, and both Miles and Dr. Harch blame it on resistance in the medical community.
Hyperbaric oxygen is a combination of increased oxygen and atmospheric pressure. It's been used for decades to treat divers who get the "bends" from surfacing too quickly. Dr. Harch believes the same process can help many other people, and he's spent 40 years tweaking the treatments to provide the maximum benefit for each patient.
Dr. Harch says hyperbaric oxygen stimulates genes to repair injured cells and promote the growth of new tissue. In fact, the treatment is Medicare-approved for diabetic foot wounds and burns, but not for injuries in brain tissue-- something that frustrates Dr. Harch and leaves his brain-injured patients unable to get insurance coverage for the treatments.
See the treatments for Kayden in our story above, and if you'd like to help Toni and Kyle with their expenses, click here.