The "Little Miracle Man" has gone home.
Quantae "Pookie" Johnson, 4, who survived a bullet in his brain, walked out of Johns Hopkins Hospital yesterday, as doctors held a news conference to express "outrage" at a surge in random gunfire against children.
The smiling Quantae, wearing a blue hat with his nickname on it, left Hopkins 17 days after being struck by a stray bullet and a week after doctors removed the large-caliber slug from his head.
He survived without suffering any serious physical problems, doctors said.
Quantae is one of 20 young gunshot victims admitted so far this year to the two Baltimore hospitals that handle the most seriously injured children, doctors said.
Last year, 21 children were treated at Hopkins or the University of Maryland Medical Center for gunshot wounds.
"As health professionals who treat these children, we are outraged that not enough is being done to stop this carnage and control handgun injuries," said Dr. J. Alex Haller, director of pediatric surgery at Hopkins, in a statement.
A two-day series in The Evening Sun last week showed how doctors helped save Quantae's life and how more and more young gunshot victims in the city struggle with anger, nightmares and pain from the shootings.
A team of Hopkins doctors unveiled a plan yesterday to help treat what they called the "epidemic" and "urgent public health problem" of violence against children.
Their recommendations included gun safety courses, a state law requiring the safe storage of handguns, and stricter enforcement of waiting periods and background checks for handgun buyers.
"We are forfeiting the future of an entire generation," said Dr. David Nichols, director of the pediatric intensive care unit. "It is important that citizens stand up and say enough is enough . . . We have the responsibility to make life safer for our children."
In his East Baltimore home yesterday afternoon, Quantae, who became known to the hospital staff as the "Little Miracle Man," kicked off his shoes and watched cartoons on television.
On Sept. 7, a stray bullet from a gun battle outside his grandmother's house on North Castle Street pierced his skull.
Nichols said there still is slight paralysis on the boy's face but it should go away.
"Quantae is going to be fine," the doctor said. "He's going to resume his normal life . . . But this miraculous recovery is not something we can expect in every case."
Quantae's mother, Carmelita Allen, 19, said mothers have to "pull together" and speak out against violence. Mothers should join block watch programs, she said, but "people don't want to become involved."