Parents of shot toddler plea with doctors

December 8, 2011 12:25:27 PM PST
As if seeing their toddler shot was not agonizing enough, the family of Hiram Lawrence is now at odds with doctors at Children's Hospital in Oakland. The family wants to hold off on tests that could determine the little boy has no brain activity.

The family of Lawrence said eight days after the shooting is not enough time to give up hope on their little boy. On Wednesday, the parents gave emotional pleas to doctors at Children's Hospital, asking for more time.

"He fighting," said mom Brittany Houston. "It's still possible, he's still recovering."

Houston is holding on to faith that she says Lawrence's doctors don't seem to have.

"The first day, they concluded that he wasn't going to make it out of surgery, and he made it," Houston said, "so that shows me my baby is fighting and if they give him time he will come home."

The family of Hiram Lawrence told ABC7 News late this afternoon that Children's Hospital has performed the first of two tests on the toddler and it showed no brain activity. The second test is scheduled for tomorrow. The family says they are not giving up hope.

"What the family doesn't want to do is play Russian roulette," said Pastor Rosevelt Taylor. "We want time."

Children's Hospital, citing confidentiality laws, won't comment. Clinical ethicist Katrina Bramstedt calls it an all-too-common situation.

Hospitals often operate under what's called "Patient Futility" policies, and by law, they can withdraw support if they've exhausted all viable treatment options.

"It's a shock," said Bramstedt. "You're not prepared for it. It's your child, and you expect your child to go to the hospital and get well and come home, and anything that is contrary to that can be difficult to deal with."

Lawrence was one of seven victims wounded during a shootout in front of a West Oakland liquor store last week where a rap video was being filmed. Lawrence's father was holding the boy when he was shot.

Today, the father tearfully held a picture of Lawrence for the cameras.

Police have five people of interest in custody, but none of them have been formally charged in connection with the shooting.

"The officers will handle that," said Houston. "My main focus is my baby coming out (of) the hospital."

Bramstedt says the laws surrounding this issue in California are pretty general, and the family may not have any legal recourse. She says it's about shared decision making when it comes to health and medical care in California.

The family is looking for a second option, and a private pediatrician is supposed to examine Lawrence on Wednesday. The family says they're also looking to take Lawrence out of Children's Hospital.

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