A woman has been forced to live with her intestines hanging out of her abdomen after surviving a horrific nightclub shooting.
Takieyah Reaves, 32, was struck in her stomach and right leg during a shooting in Newark, New Jersey, in 2017, reported Metro.
One of the bullets blew her entire stomach open and doctors warned her she was unlikely to survive the intensive surgery needed to repair her insides.
Mum-of-two Takieyah lived to tell the tale, but the size of her wound made it impossible for medics to completely close the wound until it heals.
For the last three years, she has lived with a gaping hole in her torso, with the inside of her intestines fully exposed.
She said the wound left her feeling “depressed” as her body had “scars all over it” and she found it “hard to live life as normal.”
Takieyah, a criminal justice student and gun control activist, told Metro: “I wasn’t supposed to make it out of hospital alive, my family were told to say their goodbyes.
“I am so grateful to still be here and be given a second chance at life, but I can’t help feeling depressed by how I looked.
“I kept my stomach hidden from everyone for a long time, even from my kids.
“I was so depressed by my body, I had scars all over and I hated it.
“I just wanted to curl up in a ball and hide and I was scared to go outside because of guns on the street.
“I also didn’t want anyone to see my body so I found it hard to live my life as normal.”
She added: “It has changed my life but I am so grateful I am still able to raise my kids.
“I was depressed for a while but I decided that I couldn’t go on like that for their sake.
“I do want my body back but I see them as my war scars.
“People tell me how beautiful I am and I have learned to embrace what happened.”
Takieyah speaking about the day she was shot: ‘I thought I was dying and I was so scared about leaving my kids without a mom. It was super scary and really painful, it felt like fire was running through my veins. ‘I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, the guy was firing off gunshots and I was stood in the doorway. I didn’t even realize I had been shot at first, but then I collapsed.
‘I was in the doorstep of the club when I got shot. I remember feeling very tired, like I wanted to go to sleep. My friend Lavona kept telling me to keep my eyes open and listen to the voices.’ ‘I lost 4.5 liters of blood and my doctors told me my heart stopped on the operating table, but I came back. I had surgery to remove the bullets but they had to leave my stomach open like this”
After three years of living with an open wound, Takieyah is due to have her stomach stitched back together for good, at the end of June this year, it will be the eighth operation she has gone through, and will be the final.