Last month a 37-year-old mother of three was shot in the neck, not far from her home in Northeast Baltimore.
Her mother says it's a miracle that she survived -- but now, Shawnice Singletary faces a life-time of recovery and rehabilitation.
Baltimore City Police say two men pulled up next to the car Singletary was driving and fired into it, striking her in the neck.
Rescue crews and doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital saved her; now she’s been moved to Specialty Hospital of Washington to begin her rehabilitation.
She communicates through lip reading, and using a laptop computer that’s been rigged with motion-detecting software and a web camera. Shawnice spells out letters with movements of her head that are tiny, but extremely difficult for her.
When ABC2 News met with her, she mouthed the words, “I heard shots and then I tried to drive off,” but that is all she remembers about the shooting.
It happened along Northern Parkway, early in the morning the day before Mother's Day.
“It's hard because when I found out about what happened to her, and then the doctor was telling me the situation, it kind of took something out of me,” said Shawnice’s mother, Charlene Singletary.
Many patients injured as severely as Shawnice was might have died. But rescue crews rushed her to Johns Hopkins, where Dr. Albert Chi first saw her in the emergency room.
“We had to stabilize her, secure her airway and then try to treat her,” he said.
In other words, he saved her life. But then, he had to tell Shawnice she was a quadriplegic. “Even with all the medical training there's nothing that really prepares you for delivering bad news such as that,” he said, adding that she made it easy for him.
“It was so inspiring; the courage that she had. And in a lot of ways she took that burden off of me,” Dr. Chi said.
Now the doctor has gotten personally involved in Shawnice's case. He put together that computer system for her to communicate.
“The first time we did this she spelled her name shawnice immediately, and I was so amazed I ran outside to tell people and then she started checking her e-mail,” he said.
And he found the hospital where she's now been moved for rehabilitation, Specialty Hospital of Washington.
The focus here is to work on helping Shawnice recover to the point where she'll be able to breathe on her own. “Our part of the partnership is to liberate her from the ventilator. To get her off life support,” said Dr. Manisha Singal, Chief Medical Officer at Specialty Hospital.
Eventually, the plan is to bring Shawnice home to Baltimore. Dr. Chi is now working to get her a more advanced computer -- one she could use just by moving her eyes.
“I think that would help her.. She could tell us what she has to say, I think it would help a lot,” Charlene Singletary said.
It would go a long way toward helping Shawnice communicate with her mother, and her three children. The last word she spelled for us was “hope.”
City police say they are making progress in the shooting of Shawnice Singletary. They executed a search warrant last week but no arrests have been made.
If you think you can help Shawnice and her family obtain the new computer for her communication, click here . On the right side of the screen, click on “Make a Gift” and select “Online” as your method of payment. Once on our direct giving page, Select “Other” in the “Please designate my gift to” field, and in the “Other Designation” field, indicate “The Johns Hopkins Trauma Patient Fund.”
To make a credit card transaction over the phone, please contact Michelle Cohen in the Department of Surgery Development Office at the Fund for Johns Hopkins Medicine, at 410-516-6252.
For more information on Specialty Hospital of Washington, click here .
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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