Living Miracles: Survivors of Gunshots to the Head


"I don't think there's anything that's extremely apparent if you don't know me, although there's probably times where I might be searching for a word, or trying to remember the right thing I want to say," he said. "But I don't think that's too much different than somebody else who feels as though they have bad short-term memory or something like that."

He can't recall becoming depressed, although he worked through his share of anger and frustration, while asking himself, "Why did this happen to me?"

A more philosophical man now, he added, "On the flip side of that, you could also say, 'Why not me?' The position I was in and the love and support from both my family and friends actually put us in a pretty good position to be able to cope and deal with this.

There's people that would crumble from an occurrence like this. We were able to overcome it and come out better on the back end."

Asked if there ever are moments when he's shaken by what happened to him, he said: "No. I sleep very well."

Yet, he revealed that in simply talking about Giffords' brain injuries, "it certainly brings back memories. Your heart starts to race a little bit. I actually start to feel … like when you're about to faint."

Weintraub, who oversaw Ireland's rehabilitation, said his injuries resembled those the Arizona congresswoman suffered in Saturday's Tucson shootings. "He offers incredible hope and inspiration to what can happen from the anatomy of this type of injury," Weintraub said.

Andrea Michalkova Scott

On Feb. 1, 2010, Andrea Michalkova Scott was left for dead after an attempted robbery and execution-style shooting in a parking lot at Jackson State University in Mississippi, where she was a research chemist in the Interdisciplinary Center for Nanotoxicity.

But thanks to the nature of her wound and the actions of a Good Samaritan that night, she remained conscious and was able to instruct the young man in how to call her husband. Within a month of the shooting, which caused facial paralysis, partial hearing loss and debilitating headaches, she was again working in her field of computational chemistry.

Her husband, Bill Scott, said doctors at the University of Mississippi Medical Center told him she was "very lucky." CT scans of her brain show a trail of bullet fragments around her left ear, a large fragment in the ear canal and a major fragment that lodged at the base of her neck, just a quarter inch from her spine that was surgically removed last March.

Scott also has undergone surgery to remove bone fragments from her damaged ear canal, has been fitted with a hearing aid and wore a special jaw brace for months when she still couldn't open her mouth to eat.

Almost a year later, Scott, 36, who holds a doctorate from Commenius University in her native Bratislava, Slovakia, calls it "a miracle that I can walk, that I can talk, that I can even smile."

Her survival is a greater miracle than either she or her husband may realize, said Dr. H. Louis Harkey, chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, who was not involved in her treatment but reviewed her CT scans and some notes from her medical file.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...