Rafi Colon was shot once in the abdomen with a 9 mm handgun during a home invasion in September 2005. The bullet tore through his intestines. Trauma surgeons at Temple had to open his abdomen to repair the injuries, but fistulas developed, holes that wouldn’t heal, and until they healed, the incision couldn’t be closed. He spent the next 11 months in the hospital, immobilized in bed, with an open wound down the front of him that had the circumference of a basketball. It got to the point where it was a normal thing for him to look down and think, oh, those are my intestines, there they are.
“It became second nature,” he told me recently over lunch at a Panera Bread in the Philly suburbs. “It wasn’t like a gruesome thing.” The holes in his intestines leaked stomach acid and burned away the surrounding tissues and skin, leaving less skin available to eventually stretch over the wound and close it. Colon learned to sop up the excess acid from his exposed intestines with gauze pads and later with a machine that sucked the acid through a tube. When his friends came to visit, they had a hard time looking at him. He messed with them once by asking a buddy to get him a Rita’s water ice, Philadelphia’s version of a snow cone. He knew what would happen when he ate it. The water ice was red, the Swedish Fish flavor from that summer, and 30 seconds after he swallowed it, the red water ice came oozing out of the hole in his intestine. His friends bolted.
How would the gun debate change if Americans witnessed the horrors that trauma surgeons confront everyday? Jason Fagone in Huffington Post.