Karla Flores, a 32-year-old street vendor from Culiacán, Mexico can consider herself after she survived being shot in the face with a live grenade.
On August 6, 2011 Mexico’s “Miracle Woman”, as she’s come to be known, was selling seafood on the street when all of a sudden she heard an explosion. As she turned around to see what had happened, the woman was hit in the face by an object, and the powerful impact caused her to fall on the sidewalk. She felt a burning sensation in her face and when she touched the point of impact with her hand there was a lot of blood. Karla passed out after that, but luckily for her an anonymous passerby took her in his car and drove her to the nearest hospital. There she woke up and when the doctors asked her about the wound Flores told them she thought a stone hit her. But their investigations would reveal it was something a lot deadlier than a stone.
From the x-ray and tomography, doctors could tell some sort of projectile was stuck between her superior and inferior jawbones, and military experts called on the scene identified it as the live explosive head of a fragmentation grenade. It had been fired with a grenade launcher, causing the bang Karla heard, but it didn’t detonate when it hit her face. Still, the grenade was extremely dangerous, just one wrong move and it could go off killing everyone in a 10-meter radius. The hospital’s patients and staff were evacuated, and something had to be done to help Karla, who could barely breath with the projectile locked in the side of her face.
Most of the doctors on duty were too scared to even go near Karla, let alone operate on her, knowing that one wrong move could blow them sky high, but when chief Gaxiola Meza asked for volunteers, four brave souls stepped up to the challege: anesthesiologists Felipe Ortiz and Cristina Soto, nurse Rodrigo Arredondo and doctor Lidia Soto. Together with two explosive experts from the Mexican army, they took Karla and all necessary equipment to an open field where in case of an explosion no one but them would be hurt. The doctors, who weren’t wearing any kind of armor, performed a tracheotomy on Karla, then proceeded to extract the grenade head, under the guidance of military experts. The operation lasted until midnight, but at the end, the projectile was safely removed and the patient saved.
Karla Flores lost half her teeth, a giant scar left her face deformed, and doctors say she has at least three years of operations ahead of her, but that doesn’t seem like such a high price to pay considering she miraculously survived being blown apart by a grenade…