Hospital May Take 1-Year-Old Shooting Victim Off Life Support: Parents Plead for More Time

Hospital May Take 1-Year-Old Shooting Victim Off Life Support: Parents Plead for More Time

One-year-old Hiram Lawrence was in his father’s arms in the parking lot of a liquor store in Oakland, Calif., during the filming of a rap video, when gunfire erupted and a bullet struck the baby in the head.  Hiram has been in a medically induced coma at Children’s Hospital in Oakland since the incident.

Doctors have told the boy’s parents that their child’s prognosis is grim, but the family is seeking a second opinion from another pediatrician after witnessing what they believe to be positive signs indicating their son could recover, including reduced swelling, hand movements and a rise in blood pressure upon hearing his father’s voice.

Ivan Golde, the family’s attorney, said the hospital has given the impression the child could be brain dead.

Hirams’s mother, Brittany Houston, said doctors have informed her they intend to test her son’s brain activity, and she is worried he may be removed from life support if the tests indicate his brain is damaged beyond recovery.

“Hiram needs more time. My baby is still fighting,” Houston told reporters at a news conference.

A hospital spokeswoman, said they could not comment, as the boy’s family has not authorized the release of information about his condition.

Dr. Katrina Bramstedt, a clinical ethicist who runs a private practice in Marin County, said the hospital does not need the parents’ permission to test the child’s brain activity. “A hospital can disconnect life support on a patient without family approval if the patient is declared dead,” Bramstedt said. “A hospital has no legal or ethical obligation to provide futile intervention,” she said.

The baby’s father, also named Hiram Lawrence, held a large photo of him and his son taken just hours before the shooting. “He doesn’t deserve this,” the child’s father said in tears. “I was running around with the wrong people. It’s not my fault. It’s not my son’s fault.”

The family is considering seeking a judge’s court order to keep little Hiram on life support if physical evidence determines that the baby could possibly recover.

Such a tragic situation for this devastated family. In situations like this, medical professionals rely on test results and statistical evidence  to guide their next steps, but family members of a brain injured loved one are not as likely to be swayed by such technicalities. I’m completely feeling the desperation of these parents. Doctors have been wrong about brain death in the past, and comatose patients who were not expected to live  have shocked doctors by recovering fully.

When it is your own child whose life is on the line, who or what can convince you to give up hoping for a miracle? kathleen cross

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