Vanessa Sims, who was 34 weeks pregnant at the time, was walking along North Avenue in Baltimore when she suffered a bullet wound that passed through her womb. She was rushed to Johns Hopkins Hospital just a few miles away where doctors Fray Dylan Stewart and Kent Stevens began working immediately to save both Sims and her unborn child.
The doctors had never experienced a situation like this personally, although they had heard cases about it before. Any child who is injured by a bullet in the womb has a very small chance of surviving.
Although having suffered a fractured spine, Sims was able to move her feet. The doctors brought her into the emergency room and immediately opened her womb to begin working on delivering the baby. He was a healthy 6 lbs. 4 oz. despite being a few weeks premature.
Chance, the name given to the child by Sims, was born not being able to breathe. Doctors began chest compressions with their thumbs and eventually inserted tubes into his chest to relieve pressure from his lungs and heart. Thankfully, the bullet had just missed the infant’s subclavian artery, but the bleeding was still continuing.
Doctors rushed the infant to a pediatric operating room where they opened up the path of the bullet. They worked quickly to ensure the bleeding would cease. Unlike adults, infants’ blood is incapable of clotting itself.
Miraculously, the surgery was a success and the infant as well as his mother were saved. The doctors were recognized for their remarkable work as the surgery will be published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.