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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 November 2007, 18:23 GMT
'Blood poured from me like a tap'
By Jane Elliott
BBC News

Steve was shot in east London last year.

It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A selection of guns
Steve was an innocent victim of London gun crime
He was visiting his family when the gunman is thought to have mistaken him for someone else and shot him through the abdomen.

"As I came round the corner and looked down the road, I thought I saw my mate.

"I tried to call out to him and I walked towards him thinking that he was my friend - someone I knew. And he just turned round and shot me. I think he shot at me two or three times.

"When I was shot I just felt hot. Really hot. It was like if you burn yourself only much worse.

Bleeding and alone

He was hit with dum-dum bullets, which can explode on impact. Leaving him with such terrible injuries that his consultant said he was not expected to survive.

The gunman ran away through the estate, leaving Steve bleeding and alone. He dialled the number of a friend.

"He lived just round the corner and rushed to meet me. But I kept walking to get away and to try and get help," he said.

Despite feeling confused and in terrible pain, Steve's survival instinct kicked in and he remembered his first aid training.

I asked the ambulance crew to check whether the bullet had gone all the way through
Steve

"I must have walked a good distance and then I sat on the floor and put myself in the recovery position and I stuck my finger in the bullet hole and squeezed my jumper in there to stop the bleeding.

"I knew what to do because I passed first aid in school."

"I asked the ambulance crew to check whether the bullet had gone all the way through" - it had not and was lodged in his back.

"There was not too much blood at the back, it was mainly the front where all the blood was. It was pouring out like a tap.

"I can remember the ambulance man just kept trying to talk me through it and then I can't remember anything after that at all."

Steve was rushed to the trauma unit at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel with injuries to his liver, pancreas, kidney and left adrenal gland.

I have a walking stick. Sometimes I can't even stand up straight
Steve

He was in a coma for two weeks and in hospital for a further fortnight.

Over a year after the shooting he says he still needs regular check-ups and that he still bears the mental and physical scars.

He says: "I am not the same person at all.

"Before I got shot I was a delivery man for a charity firm. I was loading and off-loading the vans. We used to pick up furniture to do up and then it was sold on.

"But I can't do any of that anymore.

"I have a walking stick. Sometimes I can't even stand up straight. I can't travel alone and my partner needs to come on the train with me when I go for my check-ups at the hospital.

Fear of reprisals

"I can't work. I can't even hold a cup of tea because it is too heavy and too hot. I can't put my jumper on properly or my jacket. I can't bend down to do up my trainers or my shoes.

"There are so many things I can't do.

"I can't play with my kids or wash up.

"There is such a long list - so much."

Steve says even though his assailant was jailed for 15 years he is still terrified of reprisals because he gave evidence in court.

"They say I am a grass and I have been labelled for it.

He was what we might call an 'unexpected survivor'
Nigel Tai

"I have the curtains drawn in the house because I have had threats to my mum's house and they are saying 'we know what area you live in'.

"They say they know where my mum lives.

"It has completely changed my life," he said.

Terrible injuries

Mr Nigel Tai, consultant in trauma and vascular surgery at the Royal London, who treated him, said Steve had been very lucky to survive from such devastating injuries.

"His injuries were exceptionally dangerous.

"He was what we might call an 'unexpected survivor,' because the bullet had passed through so many different structures - anyone of which could have been a potentially fatal injury.

"The round had actually passed through the skin of his upper abdomen and then it had gone perpendicular, aiming slightly to the left, and it went through the liver - making a very large injury.

"It went through the stomach and made a hole in the upper part of his pancreas. It also went through his kidney and the adrenal gland and it also went through a couple of important blood vessels, which were the main cause of his bleeding.

"Basically he had a full house.

"Personally I think there is only one worse place to be shot in the abdomen and that is in the back of the liver where all the blood vessels are."

We have changed Steve's name to protect his identity.



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