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Boy, 4, nearly dies after taking golf ball to the head

Posted at 7:53 AM, Jun 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-29 07:53:29-04

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH/CNN) – A 4-year-old in Indiana is expected to make a full recovery after being struck in the head with a golf ball.

After returning home from golf camp, Decker Bowman, 4, was hitting Nerf golf balls with his 6-year-old cousin when the two found a real golf ball.

The 6-year-old accidentally hit Decker in the head with the ball, Decker’s father, Austin Bowman, says.

Within 20 seconds, the side of the 4-year-old's head swelled up.

"We rushed him to the hospital, and then after a few hours there, we were home,” Austin Bowman said.

But just a few hours later, something wasn’t right.

"He woke up. He kind of, like, foamed on the straw,” Austin Bowman said.

The family returned to the hospital, this time for a brain scan.

"When we saw the scan, the whole room that we were sitting in went from, ‘professional, it's okay,’ to ‘I fell down,’” Austin Bowman said.

A blood clot was putting pressure on Decker’s brain. He was rushed to the children’s hospital where he immediately went into surgery.

"He was swirling down the drain, so to speak, very quickly,” said Dr. Jodi Smith, Decker’s neurosurgeon.

Smith says she removed at least a fist-sized area of clot.

The surgery was the longest four hours of Decker’s parents’ lives, especially for his mother, Abbie Bowman, who had been visiting a friend in Colorado.

Hearing about her son’s injury, the mother had managed to find a plane with one seat open to bring her home. She was on the plane while Decker was in surgery.

"It was every mother's worst nightmare,” Abbie Bowman said. “It was horrible.”

The mother arrived at the hospital not long after Decker got out of surgery.

“It was interesting that she was gone because I panicked quicker than I would have, and when Dr. Smith said it was seconds to save his life and that she needed to beat the ambulance to the hospital to have a chance to save him…” Austin Bowman said.

The timing was right and so was the father’s decision to go back to the hospital.

"Had dad second guessed himself, [saying] ‘Oh, we were already there. There's probably nothing wrong.’ And [had] Decker went to sleep that night, Decker probably wouldn't have awakened in the morning,” Smith said.

Out of the hospital in just a few days, Decker is now recovering at home.

Copyright 2017 WISH, Bowman Family via CNN. All rights reserved.