13-Year-Old Florida Boy Miraculously Recovers After Being Shot in the Head
“What goes through my mind is one: ‘Oh, this isn't real. It can't be happening,’ because it's so unusual and rare. Two: most kids don't survive,” neurosurgeon Dr. George Jallo with Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital tells Inside Edition Digital.
Chances were Aaron Hunter wouldn’t survive. This past June, the 13-year-old was shot in the head.
“It's miracle, to be honest,” neurosurgeon Dr. George Jallo with Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg tells Inside Edition Digital. “When you see a bullet enter just above the ear and then go through that whole half side of the brain and causing the damage that bullets or missiles can do, I wasn't optimistic for him. I thought he may die in the operating room, which he did not.”
Dr. Jallo was about to sit down for dinner with his family when he got the call that he’d need to come in. A boy had been shot.
“What goes through my mind is one: ‘Oh, this isn't real. It can't be happening,’ because it's so unusual and rare. Two: most kids don't survive,” he says. “Fifty percent of the children that are shot – die from the missile injury.”
The surgery, one that Jallo says is “far and few in between," lasted a few hours.
Three weeks later, Aaron was out of the hospital.
“It's been good so far,” Aaron tells Inside Edition Digital of returning to school this fall.
At first, Aaron had some left-sided weaknesses. His eyes were cross and he had some stigmatism in the left eye, which caused him to lose eyesight slightly. “He's got a vision deficit and maybe a little slow processing, but he's walking, talking, and participating in therapy and being able to go to school is a miracle in itself,” Dr. Jallo says.
“Everybody would ask me, ‘was he blind?’ I had to tell them no,” Aaron’s mom, Erica Dorsey, tells Inside Edition Digital. He never had to go to rehab, only outpatient therapy appointments. “When I look at him now and I see his eyes … it's just coming together as it should.”
When the doorbell rang with news that Aaron was shot, Erica didn’t believe it.
“I thought that they were lying and that it wasn't true,” she recalls of the horror. “At first I was in shock, and then I think fear, and then it was acceptance.”
Aaron doesn’t remember it at all. He says he was with friends picking mangoes from a tree.
An investigation into who shot Aaron continues. Aaron’s family organized a Stop Gun Violence walk-in honor of the teen’s survival and to raise awareness about gun safety.
“I'm not mad because I just feel like it's kids. What I think is that, just my opinion on it, is that they were playing with a gun,” Erica says of what she thinks happened. “I have to have Aaron take some type of accountability for this as well. I'm not saying that it's his fault that he was shot, but we talk about this all the time. [He] shouldn't have been around [these people] when they had this gun. I almost try to have an open mind to why maybe he wanted to be around and not necessarily thinking [he’s] going to get shot.”
Doctors continue to monitor Aaron since not all of the bullet fragments were removed from his head. “There's one that's very deep next to the midline that is very close to a very important vein or vessel that drains the entire brain. So I've got to make sure one, that the bullet fragment doesn't move. Two, it doesn't cause late injury to any of the vessels, and to ensure that he doesn't develop seizures or infections down the road,” Jallo explains.
Erica gets through each day “one day at a time.” More recently, her smile helps.
“Just from me thinking about where he came from that day until now and just watching him with the recovery process, I feel great.”
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