Victim's father: 'Every day we have her, it's a blessing'

Victim's father: 'Every day we have her, it's a blessing' »Play Video
John Bowman sits by his daughter Amina at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center, March 13, 2012.
SEATTLE -- Three weeks have passed since Amina Bowman was shot in her third-grade classroom at Armin Jahr Elementary School in Bremerton.

The 8-year-old remains in serious condition in the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center. But she is making progress and doing remarkably well, considering all that she has been through.

"When we first heard about it, it's every parent's worst fear," said Amina's father, John Bowman. "I think the first question I asked was what kind of round it was, what kind of bullet it was."

Bowman, who served in the Navy in Iraq, said he wanted to prepare mentally for the worst. The answer was a 45-caliber bullet from a semi-automatic handgun.

"When I heard that, my heart just sank," he said.

But 21 days later, he is able to sit at Amina's bedside and hold her hand. "Mina," as friends and family call her, is making slow progress.

While she slept peacefully through a visit from our news cameras on Tuesday, she is awake at times. But even that can be wrenching.

"First thing she asked -- she didn't ask what happened; she asked for water. And it's hard to say no. We have to," said her father.

Mina cannot drink or eat because of an injury to her small intestine. The single bullet did horrendous damage. Doctors have bypassed one of the wounds with a feeding tube.

Over five surgeries, she's been on the operating table for 16 hours. She needed 30 units of blood -- her entire blood volume. She is without a gall bladder, and the largest vein in her body is destroyed. A metal plate holds her shattered elbow together.

And she still has the bullet lodged in her body, sitting just centimeters from her spine.

But getting this little girl to her current task has been a feat in and of itself.

"Oh, it's huge," said Dr. Eileen Bulger, Mina's surgeon and director of the emergency department at Harborview Medical Center. "It was a relief to get her through the first two days.

"I think there were a couple times in the operating room, especially the first operation, where we thought we might lose her on the table. It was very touch-and-go."

The greatest risk now is infection. But Bulger says Mina is a resilient girl with a strong family. And there is faith that after this heartache, there will be a future.

"Every day we have her, it's a blessing. We cherish every day we have with her," said her father.

Prosecutors have filed an assault charge against the mother of a 9-year-old boy accused of bringing a gun that accidentally fired in school, injuring Mina.

Jamie Lee Passmore and her boyfriend, Douglas L. Bauer, have now both been charged with third-degree assault. Bremerton police said the pair had failed to secure guns they were not authorized to own.

Passmore has also been charged with two second-degree counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. Bauer has been charged with one second-degree count of unlawful possession of a firearm. Both are expected in court on Thursday.

A fund has been established to help Mina's family cover medical costs. Donations can be made to the Amina Bowman Victims Trust at any Bank of America branch.