Family conflicted over wounded toddler's future

December 9, 2011 12:48:26 AM PST
The parents of a 1-year-old boy appear to be torn over an agonizing medical decision that could end their son's life.

Little Hiram Lawrence Jr. was shot in the head 10 days ago during a shooting rampage outside a liquor store. On Thursday it seemed his parents were prepared to take him off life support, but Thursday night family members say that's not the case.

The boy's family was at the hospital all day and has a very painful decision to make, whether to take the one year old off life support and if so, when.

Earlier this week, doctors at Children's Hospital Oakland conducted tests and found that Hiram had no brain activity. Then, Hiram's family brought in their own pediatrician for a second opinion and that doctor confirmed the hospital's findings. He had no responses when the little boy's reactions and reflexes were tested. Thursday afternoon, the family's attorney Ivan Golde said Hiram Jr. would be taken off life support Friday.

"They have to accept the fact that the baby is merely breathing for the most part on a ventilator, and frankly, probably won't ever improve," said Golde.

But early Thursday night, it seemed the family changed its mind.

"We have not decided or agreed to move baby Hiram from life support. The next 18 hours are critical and we are asking for your continuous prayers and support," said Norman Bobino, Hiram's uncle.

Hiram Jr. was critically injured during a shoot out in West Oakland Nov. 28th. The boy and his father, Hiram Sr., had just left a liquor store and walked to a nearby parking lot when the shooting started. Hiram Sr. was shot in the hand and his son was shot in the back of the head. Clinical ethicist, Katrina Bramstedt, Ph.D., says a decision on the boy's future can't wait.

"Ethically, you're really got to do what's compassionate and the most compassionate thing to do is to allow this child to move on," said Bramstedt.

Bobino says there will be one more test conducted Friday morning, but another relative told ABC7 the little boy would be taken off life support at 1 p.m. Friday. Still, there are a lot of decisions to be made.

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