Shooting victim’s wife asks others to pray for the sniper

RICHMOND — In the midst of her anguish, the wife of the latest sniper victim thanked well-wishers for their support and asked them to pray for her family — and for the attacker.

Although the woman has asked for her and her husbands identity to remain confidential, she released a brief statement Monday as her husband remained in critical but stable condition at Medical College of Virginia Hospitals.

“This has been a frightening and difficult time where I have feared the loss of my husband, friend and soulmate,” her statement said.

“The support I have gotten from this community, my home community and my family has seen me through this difficult time.

“The hospital has taken care of all of our needs, so there is no need to send anything other than continued prayer.

“Please pray also for the attacker and that no one else is hurt.”

The man, 37, was shot by a sniper Saturday as he and his wife were leaving a Ponderosa restaurant in Ashland. Ballistics tests have connected it to similar shootings in Maryland, Washington and Northern Virginia.

The trauma surgeon who operated said he expects the man to experience complications and that additional surgeries will be required.

“He is awake, opening his eyes,” said Dr. Rao R. Ivatury, director of trauma and critical care surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University MCV Hospitals.

“He cannot talk because he has a breathing tube. Otherwise, he is stable.

“The critical time period will be the next two to three weeks,” Ivatury said.

Trauma program manager Nancy Martin said the mans wife, who remains at his bedside, is holding up well.

“She does have some extra support with her now,” Martin said. She would not say specifically who was with the mans wife, only that they had come from out of state.

In operations Saturday and Sunday surgical teams removed the mans spleen, half his pancreas and part of his stomach and repaired damage caused by the bullet.

Ivatury said the bullet entered the man left of his upper abdomen, passed through his stomach, nicked a kidney, injured the spleen, diaphragm and a rib before lodging in a wall of his chest.

He said the “way the stomach was torn apart suggested the bullet exploded when it hit the stomach.”

Ivatury said a major fragment of the bullet was recovered and turned over to authorities. Other fragments were not removed.

The man is being given drugs to sedate him, antibiotics to fight infection and other medication to control bleeding.

During the surgeries, doctors were faced with trying to remove food that was thrown throughout the mans abdominal cavity when the stomach was damaged by the bullet.

“We had to clean it out with lots of fluid and mechanically scooping everything out,” Ivatury said.

“We expect some complications because of all the blood loss, all of the contamination from the food inside. Its going to be rocky for a few weeks.

Ivatury said he will face some challenges as he recovers, among them a restricted diet because of losing so much of his stomach. Ivatury described the man as “pretty big, about 6-foot-3-inches tall and approximately 200 pounds.

“He cannot each as much quantity as he used to but will need to eat multiple small meals,” Ivatury said.

The mans next surgery will be in a couple of days to “see if we can close the belly completely,” said Ivatury, explaining that the mans abdominal wall has not been stitched closed but is covered with a dressing and gauze.

“The intestines were enormously swollen, so we could not put it back and close it up,” he said.

The breathing tube may be in for a week or two, he said.

“Hes a very, very strong man and once he comes out of this he could live a normal life,” said Ivatury, when asked about the mans long-term prognosis.

MCV Hospitals get between 3,000 and 3,500 serious trauma cases a year, with about a quarter of those being penetration injuries. Most of the penetration injuries are gunshot wounds, said Dr. Joseph P. Ornato, chairman of emergency medicine for the hospital.

The trauma unit, a division of the surgery department, and the emergency medicine department work closely together. Ornato praised Ivaturys surgery staging technique.

“What most places have done in the past is to try to go in and repair everything that is in need of repair,” said Ornato. “Usually when you have someone with multiple organ injury it takes hours and hours and hours to do that, and often the patient will not survive.

“What Dr. Ivatury has been able to pioneer is to go in and control what urgently needs to be controlled in terms of hemorrhage and taking the patient back to critical care for a period of hours.”

After the patient is stabilized and has had a chance to get over that initial injury and surgery, doctors return for the next stage of repair.

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