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Drowning victim lives on through organ donation

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Despite the age difference 13-year-old Cailey and 10-year-old Gracie Shetley adored their little brother, Cobryn. The neighborhood park would provide endless hours of entertainment for the inseparable trio.

Caaley said, "He'd get his little red car out here with us. He liked to go over there and play on the slides."

They also loved the water and jumped at a recent invitation to swim and grill hot dogs at their aunt's house. As the June 3rd pool party was winding down, Nikki Shetley took her son inside and removed his drenched life jacket.

She left him in the kitchen to finish eating, while she changed her wet clothes. Five minutes later, Cobryn had vanished.

Nikki Shetley said, "I got about a foot away from the pool and I leaned over and found him face down at the bottom. He was wearing blue plaid shorts. He just blended in with the water. He was already blue.

One family friend started CPR while another called 911. Police, fire fighters and EMSA medics worked in tandem to revive his lifeless body.

EMSA Medic, Kenny Waldrop said, "It's a kid. He hasn't started life yet. One second he's playing and they next we're doing CPR on him."

Cobryn survived the ambulance ride thanks to the heroics of those 1st responders. But hours grew into days at the pediatric intensive care unit. Tubes and machines were the only things keeping little Cobryn breathing.

Nikki told us, "Your body can withstand a lot of injuries and recover, but your brain cannot. It's very unforgiving."

Nikki and Cobryn's father made the courageous decision to remove life support and donate the 4-year-old's organs. Nikki will never forget the final hours, climbing into Cobryn's hospital bed and holding her only son for the last time.

"I think the last two hours are the worst. You watch the clock and know that time is limited. There is no preparing yourself for the last moment when they say this is it and they wheel him out."

Somewhere out there, Cobryn's heart is still beating.

Shetley said, "The only thing that keeps me going, I can't wait for the day to put my hand on a baby's chest and feel my son's heart. That makes me proud. It doesn't make it easier but it makes me proud of my son, very proud."

Nikki is on a crusade to spare other family's a similar anguish. She believes Cobryn ventured outside that day to gather his pool toys and likely fell in.

She warns, "Clear all the toys out of the pool, out of the backyard if you have to. Anything that would catch their attention."

This mom also wishes she'd known about safety products available at most pool supply stores. One product is called the Safety Buoy. It sells for $150. The second the water is disturbed, a piercing alarm goes off.

It's too late for Cobryn. But he still lives through safety awareness, organ donation and a family's fond memories of too few summers, playing in the park.

Nikki said, "I prayed for my baby to be okay. And he is okay. He's in Heaven. He's in the most perfect place he could ever be."