The family of a 1-year-old California boy who was shot in the head when gunfire erupted during the filming of a rap music video issued a public plea Wednesday to keep him on life support.
The boy's mother, Brittany Houston, said Children's Hospital in Oakland wants to test the child's brain activity, and she is worried the hospital may want him taken off life support if the tests show no reaction.
"Hiram needs more time. My baby is still fighting," Houston said at a news conference as the boy's father, also named Hiram Lawrence, clutched a large photo of him and his son taken just hours before the shooting.
The child, Hiram Lawrence, is in an induced coma, and the family thinks he could make a full recovery with more time.
Erin Goldsmith, a hospital spokeswoman, said the boy's family has not authorized the release of information about his condition.
Hiram was shot in the head on Nov. 28 in a liquor store parking lot in a shooting that left six others wounded. Police detained six possible suspects on unrelated charges but no arrests have been made.
The hospital does not need the family's permission to run the tests that are part of standard care for patients suffering from devastating brain injuries and on life support, said Dr. Katrina Bramstedt, a clinical ethicist who runs a private practice in Marin County.
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.
"This is a tragedy for this family and they want a positive a glimmer of hope, but not every case works out that way and they may have to accept a bad outcome if the tests show negative results," Bramstedt said.
The boy's father was wounded in the hand while holding his son.
"He doesn't deserve this," the father said after the news conference as tears streamed down his face. "I was running around with the wrong people. It's not my fault. It's not my son's fault."
Doctors have provided a grim prognosis about the boy, whose family is seeking a second opinion from a pediatrician after seeing what they considered positive signs of reduced swelling, hand movements and higher blood pressure when he heard his father's voice.
Ivan Golde, the family's attorney, said the hospital has given the impression the child could be brain dead.
"If we find physical evidence that this baby could possibly recover, one option for us would be to go to court and ask a judge to order the hospital to keep the baby on life support," Golde said.