Gunshot wounds to the head typically do not yield happy endings, and while this is neither an ending nor happy, Desaree Sanders recovery is quite amazing. She has regained consciousness after heavy sedation. She is talking, albeit in a limited fashion, and in the next day or two she'll be eating solid foods again.
"I think she is scared because she's waking up in a different environment from what her last memories are. And therefore, she is really not talking in complete sentences at this point but is able to tell us her name and able to answer simple questions and follow commands," said Dr. Tracy Koogler, University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital.
The bullet that struck Desaree Sanders traversed her brain but remarkably, doctors say, it did not damage control over speech and motor skills. There are fragments lodged in her neck. They will have to remain there.
"When a bullet goes through the brain, we worry about secondary swelling, but we were able to control the secondary swelling. And so she thankfully, at this point, appears got pretty minor brain injury, which was best case scenario," said Dr. Koogler.
Her family has been at the bedside for the last nine days and it was on that afternoon and family members said they feared that she might lose sight in one eye. At this point, that is one aspect of the condition they are not discussing.
"Unfortunately most of the time we don't see these kids do well. She is a lucky little girl that must have had an angel on her shoulder that has pulled her through this. And she looks good at this point and we hope she continues to improve," said Dr. Koogler.
There are still questions about long-term recovery - whether her learning capacity will be diminished in any way by her wound. Obviously questions about sight, and, of course, psychological impact. She'll be working with a child psychologist as she begins her rehab - perhaps sometime late next week.