This trauma surgeon, who was shot as a teenager, wants you to know gun violence happens every day
By Emma Court
'People say 'my thoughts and prayers'-- my thoughts and prayers, yes, but how many times are we going to say this?' Sakran asked
Dr. Joseph Sakran had a "relatively normal childhood," growing up in Fairfax Station, Virginia as the son of immigrant parents, attending high-school football games with his friends.
Then, after one of those games, while he and others were hanging out at a local elementary school playground, (https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1994/09/25/2-fairfax-teens-shot-watching-fight-at-playground/03e90e11-0126-45d8-a89e-e553a79b522d/?utm_term=.56b90c138280) Sakran was shot in the throat with a .38 caliber bullet.
"Most 17-year-olds don't realize that they're mortal," Sakran said. "When something like this happens, it changes your life, it's a 180. For me it really inspired me to figure out: How do I give people the same second chance I was given?"
The experience spurred Sakran to get into medicine, and then to become a trauma surgeon. Twenty-three years later, as a director of emergency general surgery at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine, Sakran often operates on victims of gun violence, who come in as frequently as every week. He also works on research and public policy on the subject, co-authoring a study this week estimating that hospital costs for those with gun injuries approach $100,000 per patient (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hospital-costs-for-those-with-gun-injuries-approach-100000-per-patient-2017-10-03).
"I've seen this from multiple sides, having been a victim then, now as a provider," he said. The experiences have motivated him to ask, "How do we work to effect change on a population level?"
Sakran's recent study also happened to be published the day after a gun massacre at an outdoor country-music concert in Las Vegas, which ranked as one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/las-vegas-shooter-paddock-had-42-guns-and-a-device-enabling-firing-at-an-automatic-rate-2017-10-03)