At GW Hospital event for trauma survivors, stories of lives saved

George Washington University Hospital hosted survivors of traumatic injuries at a Thursday event giving patients a chance to reunite with the care providers who saved their lives.

The D.C. hospital’s annual Trauma Survivors Day featured inspiring and captivating stories from survivors of serious, life-threatening injuries — including a school shooting, an assault at a local Metro station and motor vehicle crashes.

Among lives the hospital has saved over the last year is a security guard, injured when a gunman sprayed bullets at D.C.’s Edmund Burke School on April 22. Retired police officer Antonio Harris was walking outside when a gunman opened fire on the Northwest D.C. school, perched from a nearby apartment building.

GW Hospital’s Dr. Babak Sarani explained that Harris suffered severe bleeding from his liver, kidney and intestines due to a bullet penetrating his abdomen. Without rapid intervention by the hospital’s surgeons and resources, Harris would likely have died.

Sarani credited a REBOA catheter, a device which uses an internally-placed balloon to cut off blood flow, with helping save Harris’ life. Doctors kept the balloon partly inflated for around 20 hours — a length of time Sarani said is a medical first for the device.

“Our ability to come together quickly and effectively are the reasons he’s here with us today,” Sarani said. “Officer Harris received whole blood thanks to our blood bank, and the heroic work they do day after day.”

As a former D.C. police officer and having served in the Marine Corps, Harris told the audience he’d thought the risk of sustaining that type of injury was behind him.

“Yet it was the events of April 22, 2022, that left me with battle scars,” Harris said. “Thank you for not giving up on me, Dr. Sarani. I’m eternally grateful to you and everyone who was in that operating room, administering life-saving care to me.”

GW Hospital’s yearly Trauma Survivors Day seeks to “celebrate resilient individuals who have experienced serious, life-threatening incidents,” according to a news release on Thursday’s event, held at the Milken Institute School of Public Health.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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