"They saved my life."
Early in February 2018, Avery Nash was surprised to become embroiled in an argument with a life-long neighbor. He was even more shocked when the neighbor shot him. Four houses away, Avery's wife, Irene, heard the shot and called 911.
At Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, emergency center physicians learned the bullet had done extensive damage to Avery's intestines, fractured his hip and severed the femoral artery in his right leg. During his first two days at LBJ, his heart stopped three times; he had two major surgeries, the first lasting nine hours; and he used 38 units of blood. He was in the intensive care unit a week, not expected to live. Over the course of 30 days, he had three more surgeries. He was discharged after a month but was back at LBJ a week later to manage some bleeding.
Irene doesn't like to think of that time. "I wasn't ready for him to go," she says. "Only my faith got me through it."
It was even harder for Avery. "When I came to, I didn't know why I was in the hospital. I kept drawing a blank." He was weak and had trouble breathing. His kidneys shut down, and he required dialysis for two weeks.
"If not for the angels at LBJ, I wouldn't be here today. The care was really, really good from housekeeping on up. The nurses went above and beyond. The gold surgery team and vascular surgeons who operated on me — they saved my life. They had their doubts that I would pull through."
Irene shares his high opinions. "LBJ has always been a good hospital. The people there saved my life once, and now they saved his."
They are both grateful. Avery urges, "Don't take life for granted. Cherish each breath, each moment. The next one isn't promised."
Looking back, Avery says, "Recovery took an emotional toll, but I'm stronger than I thought I was. Coming back from this whole experience makes me feel good about myself, like I have a purpose. I want to work with young men and women in low-income neighborhoods and try to motivate them to change their lives."
He also has his eye on culinary school. He has some ideas about soul food he'd like to share with the world.