Posted: Jan 4, 2012 6:42 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2012 6:47 PM
HOUSTON - A 13-year-old boy shot outside an Edinburg middle school last month is recovering in a Houston hospital. Doctors are deciding if Nicholas Tijerina will need surgery on his damaged liver.
Tijerina's liver is the main concern for doctors right now. Once doctors fix that, the teenager will start working to recover from his spinal cord injury. Tijerina still cannot move his legs.
Tijerina will rehab in one of the best clinics in the world. Gabby Giffords, the congresswoman shot in Arizona, spent five months in this same hospital. The Tirr Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital is considered one of the top places in the country to get better. Donna Tijerina hopes this is where her son Nicholas will learn to walk again.
"We are hoping for miracles from them," the mother says.
Tijerina was shot while playing basketball outside Harwell Middle School in December. The bullet ripped through his spine. Donna Tijerina cried when they wheeled her son into the hospital that night. She cried when doctors told her Nicholas might not walk again. She cried again when she found out the Houston clinic will give him a chance.
"That is probably the first tears of joy I've shed since all this happened," she says.
Nicholas will spend a minimum of six weeks at the clinic.
"He'll be doing, like, I believe it's like eight hours a day of rehab," says Donna Tijerina.
The mother says rehab is the best part of her son's day.
"He gets to sit up and see outside," she says.
She says the move to the big city will give him more motivation to get out of bed.
"Well, now he gets to sit up. He's on the 11th floor. He gets to see the whole city of Houston," she says.
Donna Tijerina says the opportunity is there for her son to get better. The progress is up to him.
"If he is just willing to lay in bed and feel sorry for himself, they won't take him," she says.
Tijerina will move to the new facility in a few weeks. Doctors won't set a timetable for his recovery. Donna Tijerina hopes her son can one day sit up in his bed and walk out on his own.
The mother says Tirr hospital evaluated Tijerina's progress. The hospital wants to make sure the teenager is ready to embrace the challenge ahead of him.