Kevin Johnson‘s perilous grip on life may come came to an end today because his family has made the gut-wrenching decision to disconnect him from the mechanical life-support system that has been keeping him alive for four days at Frankford Hospital/Frankford division.
“I feel right now that Kevin has served his purpose,” said his mother, Janice Jackson-Burke. “I was blessed with three-and-a-half more years with my son, and they weren’t wasted years.
“Basically, God called him home now, and that’s where he’s going.”
Jackson-Burke said her son fell into a vegetative state on Thursday after his ventilation system failed, and he was rushed to the hospital. He suffered irreparable brain damage, his mother said.
She said that with their pastor present, the family would remove all means of artificial life support at about 1 p.m.
The Daily News has followed the story of Kevin Johnson since the June 24, 2003, shooting that left him paralyzed from the neck down.
Johnson, then 19, was waiting for a trolley in Southwest Philadelphia when a group of five teenagers tried to rob him of his Allen Iverson jersey.
Raymond Ferguson, then 15, admitted he shot Johnson in the neck. [NOTE: Raymond Ferguson never really had a chance. His parents died of AIDS and his half-brother was murdered.] Robert Chisolm, also 15 at the time, shot Johnson’s cousin, Nafeese Holton, in the face. Both shooters were convicted of attempted murder and related offenses, and were sentenced to 15-to-30 years in jail.
And although Johnson and his family have forgiven the shooters, the decision to take Johnson off life support once again crystallized the gun epidemic gripping this city.
“I’m hoping that everyone got the chance to see Kevin riding down the block in his wheelchair and sucking on that [ventilator] tube and know that’s the after-effects of picking up a gun,” Jackson-Burke said.
“It’s not a joke. I would think that if we were able to put [the procedure of withdrawing the life-support system] on television, I would do it if that would help one more child.”
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