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Four of the five bullets had found their mark. Three lodged in her flesh without serious harm. But one left a trail of destruction. It pierced her left side and passed through her abdomen, crossing her right chest, coming to rest near her right armpit. Along the way it tore her stomach and large intestine and made innumerable holes in her small intestine. It penetrated her liver, her diaphragm, her lung. It cut her pancreas in half. It severed the splenic artery and vein, opening such a fountain of blood that she eventually lost it all, and more. The tireless doctors at Carolinas Medical Center kept replacing the blood through intravenous lines, and she kept losing it. Six liters. One hundred fifty percent.
The lethal bullet missed the boy, just as the four other shots did. It missed his mother's uterus by an inch or two. But her blood was his blood. It flowed through the uterine artery to the placenta and gave him the nutrients and oxygen he needed to live. Now the blood was diverted. It was pooling in his mother's chest. And the unborn child began to suffocate.
Nearly 70 minutes passed from the time of the shooting to the time the boy was delivered by emergency C-section. Ten more and he might have been stillborn, according to Docia Hickey, the neonatologist who helped save his life. But the effects of those 70 minutes would be irreversible. Without oxygen, cells began to die in his cerebellum and basal ganglia. There was tissue death in the brain. The human body is quite adept at self-healing and regeneration. But lost brain cells are gone forever.
The boy came into the world, and he was blue.
Saundra says she found her daughter after the C-section in one of her last moments of lucid speech, and she asked Cherica a question.
Do you want him to be a Carruth or an Adams?
Adams, Cherica said.
And so the blue boy became Chancellor Lee Adams.
When Carruth came to the hospital, bringing another girlfriend, he never asked Saundra how Cherica was doing. But according to friends, he asked repeatedly about the baby. Sometime after Chancellor's vital signs stabilized, Carruth got a picture of him and showed it off to a friend.
He's long, like me, Carruth said proudly. Like I was when I was a child.