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Sniper Victim, Family Holds Press Conference

Aired December 13, 2002 - 10:22   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you to Washington, where we are now going to be hearing for the first time publicly from the young boy who was shot by the sniper in Washington, D.C., Iran Brown. This is him, this is the young man, Brown, you see on the right, along with his mother.
LISA BROWN, IRAN BROWN'S MOTHER: ... strong enough to return home. During our stay at Children's, every member of the staff (AUDIO GAP) like a part of the family, and that helped us get through some very, very tough days. To the community, I wanted to thank you for all your prayers and well wishes. Your support and respect for our privacy allowed us to focus all our attention to my son's recovery.

We still have some challenges ahead, but Iran is getting stronger, and each day is looking forward to going back to school. We have received every media request and understand your wishes to speak with us. At this point, we're going to enjoy some private time as a family, and will not be granting any further interviews at this time. As Iran continues to recover, we hope you will allow us to move forward and take the next steps toward my son returning to school. And...


JEROME BROWN, UNCLE OF IRAN BROWN: I don't have anything written. I basically want everyone to know how much we appreciate all the prayers, and everything that everyone has done for us. We also appreciate the people who haven't called, who we know care about us and love us and that you cared enough to realize we needed time to ourselves and to be able to deal with this situation.

I definitely want to make sure that everyone understands that luck had nothing to do with this. This is a miracle, and God had his hand in this at all times, And I am just glad to be a Christian, and that Jesus Christ died for me, and that this young man knew that, and is a Christian, and God was with him the whole time.

I want God to get all the glory from this, and God, of course, was with everyone -- the surgeons and everyone. But from the beginning of this ordeal, he was -- he decided my wife was going to take him to school. He decided because he knew she would know what to do, and he decided all the events that happened, up to where we are right now, and he's still in control.

So I just wanted to make sure that everyone understands that God should get all the glory for this. And just thank you very much and please allow us to return to being a family, and that that's all we really want at this point.

And thank you very much.


IRAN BROWN, SNIPER VICTIM: Hello, everyone. I want to -- first, I want to thank God for everything he's done for me. I want to thank my doctors and nurses at Children's Hospital for taking good care of me over the past few months and helping me get strong enough to go home.

I feel great, and am looking forward to picking up my life where I left off. That includes a lot of basketball and hanging out with my friends. I want to thank everybody for sending all the cards and gifts while I was in the hospital. Each one of them gave me strength to get better. I also want to say thank you to my friends at Benjamin Tasker Middle School for all the cards and presents you sent to me while I was here as well.

One thing I've learned from all of this is to stay strong, stay healthy and never give up. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much. As I said before, the family is willing to respond to any questions about how they're doing and moving forward. We will not respond to any questions regarding the sniper suspect, and Dr. Eichelberger is here to respond to any questions regarding Iran's medical condition. We'll take one at a time, OK? Iran will not take any questions. That was (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

QUESTION: ... one that only he can answer, and that is, how does he feel today? Is he normal, does it hurt?

I. BROWN: Can I answer that? I feel good. I'm not in any pain right now. I feel normal. It's just that I can't lift heavy things or can't do some of the things I could do before. I'm just taking it day by day.

QUESTION: When are you heading back to school?

I. BROWN: Can I say that?

L. BROWN: We're not sure. We're not sure. We're just trying to get him strong enough to return.

QUESTION: When he says day by day, are you feeling stronger day by day?

I. BROWN: Yes. Yes, quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, Dr. Eichelberger will be more apt to answer that in terms of the "quickly" part.

DR. MARTIN EICHELBERGER, CHIEF OF SURGERY, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Iran continues to make extraordinary progress. He is active, and he's looking forward to going back to school, and he's been probably one of the best patients I've taken care of in many years.

I think you can feel comfortable that he is recovering in a way that you would hope your own family would in this kind of a situation.


QUESTION: ... could you please describe what the prognosis here, what he's going to look forward to? This is not completely covered yet, I am sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he's had a lot of basketball scouts come by to see him already. So that -- he's already been on -- actually, I told him I'd be his agent if he wanted, the way he shoots baskets. I already know he has got that eye, so that he may be the first pick in the NBA in the next two years.

But I think Iran has continued to make great progress, and my anticipation as his surgeon is that he will continue to make progress. He's right now, the only medication he's on is an antibiotic because of the fact of the requirement that we had to take his spleen out. That puts him at risk for an infection, and we believe he probably will require that for the next several years.

Anticipating that with his age, the risk that he has for an infection goes down. He -- his stomach and his pancreas are working quite nicely. His pancreas has recovered from the injury, which was significant. That was the last organ that really has recovered and is back to normal.

His lung is functioning extraordinarily well. His intestinal tract is doing great. You can see by his nutritional status, he looks great. That is because he is able to take all of the nutrition that he needs. If anything, he is taking more than I would expect right now.

And I think it has been a privilege to work with him, and with his family, the community at large, I think, has a lot to do with this. They've been very supportive, and a lot of his progress is made because of a very strong, positive attitude that he's had. We have been very fortunate to have the good Lord on our shoulder, there is no question about that, but a lot of it has to do with us as a community reaching out to families that have this kind of an episode.

And I think as the Washington, D.C. greater area, we've been very good in the past, and I think it has been a great example of how we have been able to help this family, help Iran get through this kind of a stress. I think all of us are satisfied and ecstatic about the fact that he is doing well, and the hospital and everybody that was involved in his care, should take great pride because there were very many people involved in where he came from, and where he is today. So I thank each and every one of you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Back here in the pink.

QUESTION: Iran, you talk about how grateful you are for your friends, your family and your doctors. But when you were in the hospital, on some of the tough days, what do you think got you through? How did you pull through?

I. BROWN: My family, just by supporting me and being there for me, and that I just never gave up.

EICHELBERGER: He's going to be a great point guard some day. Never give up.

QUESTION: Is he already shooting baskets?


EICHELBERGER: Yes, he is. Aren't you? You're shooting some baskets.

I. BROWN: I am shooting, but not as much as I used to.

QUESTION: ... how much of a factor is his age in the fact that he has recovered so quickly and so remarkably well?

EICHELBERGER: Well, I think age has a lot to do with it. I wish I was his age right now. When you have a significant injury like this, your ability to recover is extraordinarily important. Your heart, your lung, your kidneys, and all of these function better at the younger age group.

Yet, if the right things aren't done right from the beginning, right from the time that he was injured, then it doesn't really matter what your age is. And I think that having ability to deal with -- he was in great shape before he got hurt, and when we were trying to recover him from the state of shock, and the amount of hemorrhaging that he was doing, he recovered very briskly, which was a heart- warming thing for me during the operation, was to see him respond to the things that we were doing, because that is not always the case, and a lot of these children don't have that recovery capacity, because of a variety of issues.

His injuries were extraordinarily severe. They were life- threatening. But he responded because of the youth of his system, I think, and because of the fact that he had the right things done right from the beginning, including the people who took care of him -- took care of him in the satellite facility. That was a crucial thing that was done out there at the Bowie Health Center where they intubated him and put a chest tube in him. This is part of that golden hour that each of us hope we have available to each and every one of us.

QUESTION: ... when did you realize just how close to death you were?

HARRIS: We're going to step away now from this press conference. This is the second one in our back-to-back press conference coverage this morning. That was the young man, there you see him there on the left there in that picture, Iran Brown, who is remarkable, the young 13-year-old who was shot on his way to school back during that spate of shootings in the Washington, D.C. area.


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