Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Prayers for Daniel

Here is the story as it appeared on KOMO 4 News last night:

By KOMO Staff

SEATTLE -- The Army isn't allowing a U.S. soldier to come home from Iraq even though his 10-year-old son is in intensive care.

The family says a communication breakdown is to blame. KOMO 4 News contacted the U.S. Army, the Red Cross and Washington state lawmakers to see where the breakdown is.

Cynthia Harris is waiting in a hospital room. No one is around to hold her hand.

Her husband David is in Iraq, her son Daniel in intensive care. The 10 year old tripped, fell and hit his head on Friday. Doctors found a softball-sized blood clot on his brain.

"I will never get over the look on his face of sheer terror and confusion," she said. "He didn't know what was going on. He couldn't move his right side. He couldn't speak."

Daniel suffered a stroke and seizures, and has been hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center.

Nurses contacted the Red Cross, who sent a message to Iraq through its emergency communication service. The Army's reply: David Harris can't come home.

"They apparently just don't think a 10-year-old boy in ICU is good enough to send somebody home," Cynthia said. "According to them, death was not imminent. That's why he can't come."

A commander at Fort Stewart, Georgia where Harris' unit is based told the family the message did not indicate an emergency; the message had reportedly stated Daniel's condition as critical but stable.

But Cynthia says the situation is urgent. Her son is on a ventilator and could undergo brain surgery any day. She believes there has been some sort of a mixup.

"'Stable' has not been used in any Red Cross messages from what I understand. It's always been critical because he is in a life-threatening situation."

Cynthia wants the Army to hear her message loud and clear: Daniel needs his father.

The Army said it is looking into the lines of communication. The Red Cross says it's rechecking its message. And KOMO 4 News has calls into the state senators to see what can be done to bring Pvt. Harris home.

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