You are a miracle sir, doctor tells man as bullet misses his heart

2015-10-06 11:44
Huyter van Graan in hospital after being shot. (Supplied)

Huyter van Graan in hospital after being shot. (Supplied)

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Pretoria – “I don't want to call myself a Christian because I don't go to church but I will tell you what, the Lord saved my life,” says Pretoria resident Huyter van Graan of the night his world changed forever.

Van Graan was shot in what police believe was an attempted hijacking on Saturday, August 29. His doctors told him his survival is “nothing short of a miracle”, he told News24 on Monday.

The 39-year-old had been working at Pinkie Fest at Marks Park, Emmerentia, where his company had been responsible for a few screens at the event. Van Graan headed home once his duties were done for the evening.

But the drive home took a sinister turn as he reached the Jan Smuts on-ramp onto the M1 highway after 23:00 in his Toyota Fortuner.


“I was driving on the road and next thing I heard a shot. As the glass broke I knew there was something [wrong],” Van Graan said. “As I heard it, I realised I've got some problems.”

Van Graan knew he had been hit somewhere and thought he could make it home. “I drove more or less as fast as I could.”

But almost 20-30 minutes after the initial shot, Van Graan was struggling to stay on the road. He reached the Allandale off-ramp on the edge of Midrand but could drive no further as a result of blood loss.

His car hit the barrier separating either side of the N1 highway, where it came to a halt.

A tow truck driver called an ambulance from the scene. “They were fantastic, they phoned my wife and then they met me at the hospital.”

Van Graan was taken to Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, where doctors managed to stabilise him, putting him on life support at one point in the early hours of the morning. He was later moved to Milpark Hospital.

Collapsed lung

“At about 08:00 the next morning I had stabilised and they let me go. At Milpark, they actually didn't do an operation.

“They did scans and X-rays and then they saw the route of the bullet and the biggest problem that I had [was] the vortex of the bullet came past my left lung. I think I had some blood in that lung and around the lung, so they had to use a draining pipe.”

It became apparent Van Graan had a collapsed lung and staff at the hospital “had a bit of difficulty getting the left lung to work”.

It would later emerge that the bullet which had entered the right side of this chest, missed his aorta by a millimetre.

“They said to me they couldn't figure out what the bullet's path was because it wasn't supposed to happen like that. It was crazy."

Doctors were baffled at how he had managed to survive and one at Milpark hospital would later tell him, "You are a miracle sir". On September 17, 18 days after the shooting, Van Graan was discharged from hospital.


Asked on Monday how his recovery was progressing, he said “it's going very well”, and he expected to return to work next week.

“I did a bit of swimming yesterday [Sunday] and I can see my body is hurting today, so I'm on the comeback here. The only thing that pulled me through... [was] God's grace. I should've been dead, God gave me a second chance.”

Van Graan describes the staff at Milpark as “absolutely amazing”, and on reflection, he is not angry at anybody.

Instead, his world view changed fundamentally. “I've just got a love in my heart that I can't describe. What I got out of this incident is just amazing,” he told News24.

“I'm 39-years-old, I come from before 1994, out of that era. If there's any racism in my heart, it's gone. I got love in my heart for everybody.”

Read more on:    pretoria  |  good news  |  hijackings

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