• Memphis violence through a surgeon's eyes

    By: Zach Crenshaw

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Every day in our newscasts, there is some mentioning of a shooting in Memphis. Often, you hear from victims and police, but rarely is the perspective heard from the surgeons inside Regional One Medical Center. Every day, they are the ones removing bullets and saving lives.

    They saved Melanie Brewer’s life. 

    “April 10, 2016. Around 11:35, 11:40 PM.”


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    Melanie was walking into her front door with her sister, Tierney, when someone fired a dozen shots at them.

    A single bullet ended Tierney Reid's life, one week before her 19th birthday.

    “It hit a main artery, which is why she died so suddenly,” said Melanie.

    Melanie was hit four times.

    “I was fighting to stay awake,” she said. “I would've died. I really do believe that. Something in me just kept saying, stay awake.”

    Melanie stayed awake just long enough to get to Regional One.

    “The paramedics told my mother I was not supposed to survive that night,” she said.

    One of the main reasons Melanie’s still alive, is the skill of the surgeons at the Mid-South’s only level one trauma center.

    “There's a whole team of people here. We descend upon the patient, and it looks like organized chaos,” said Dr. Martin Croce, Head Trauma Surgeon at Regional One.

    Dr. Croce is one of the authors of a recent study that examined 20 years of gunshot data.

    “The good news is that the overall mortality has decreased from about fifteen-percent to ten percent,” said Dr. Croce.

    The bad news is, “more people are getting shot” and in more areas of their body. Melanie is proof of the alarming trend.

    “I was shot twice in my arm and once in my back,” she said, revealing large scars.

    She also had a bullet enter through her neck, then exit her right eye, which she lost. 

    Dr. Croce has been seeing more injuries on more patients lately.

    “Chest and abdomen, chest abdomen and neck, or chest abdomen and leg,” he said. “So that suggests people are using automatic weapons or using weapons with a larger magazine.”

    Melanie is not your typical Mid-South gunshot victim.

    What the hospital's study found, reflects what FOX13 reports daily.

    Nearly 90% of the victims are men. 77% are black, and the most common age, 20 to 24 years old.

    In short, young black men are getting shot on the streets of Memphis.

    Only 30-percent of the gunshot victims are from the wider region, 70-percent of Regional One’s patients come from within the city limits.

    The study calls gun violence in Memphis "a public health epidemic."

    “People need to put the guns down, but you can tell people that every day. But it's really up to them to do it,” said Melanie.

    The bullet wounds eventually heal, but the pain and trauma remains.

    “Not a day goes by where I don't think about her and what happened. I do ask myself if there something else I could've done to protect her,” said Melanie. “Because I lived, and she didn't.”

    Tierney Reid's murder is still unsolved. If you have any information about the shooting that took place on Mallard Nest Cove on April 10, 2016 call Crimestoppers at 528-CASH.

    Regional One said data collection has been seriously lacking and would help illuminate solutions.

    They are currently working to partner with the MPD to better share data, to better track the gun violence epidemic, with hopes of preventing shootings.

    Here is the final portion of Regional One’s report:
     
    "In conclusion, this study illustrates an ongoing and worsening gun violence epidemic that is largely outside of the national consciousness. Sensational incidents of gun violence, whether they are mass shootings or acts of terrorism, intermittently capture the public's attention as they briefly occupy 24-hour news cycles. Meanwhile, cities like Memphis, Tennessee grapple with daily shootings and a worsening homicide rate that skeptics and naysayers consider inevitable and unalterable. As trauma surgeons, we have the moral responsibility to take a stand against any problem that potentially brings patients into our care"

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