On June 16, 2017, Cristobal Cornejo was relaxing after a day at work when he walked outside his apartment to smoke a cigarette. Without warning, he was shot from both sides. Even with six gunshot wounds, he made it inside to ask his son to call 911.
Taken by ambulance to Ben Taub Hospital, Cristobal was unresponsive when he arrived. Doctors wasted no time in assessing and repairing damage to his lungs, colon, liver, kidney and bones. Over the next seven months, he had 22 surgeries and three hospital stays. Some of the surgeries were so close together, doctors did not close the surgical site, but left a protected flap while wound vacuum assisted closure therapy cleaned and drained his abdominal cavity. Eventually, surgeons took muscles from his leg to make repairs, and Cristobal had a temporary colostomy bag.
Though he isn’t yet strong enough to return to his construction job, Cristobal believes the doctors when they call him a miracle man. He celebrates an amazing recovery.
When Cristobal praises Harris Health, he’s talking about the whole system: his primary care doctor at Vallbona Health Center, the surgeons, the entire Ben Taub staff, the Quentin Mease Hospital physical therapists and the psychologist who is helping him deal with the emotional trauma caused by the shooting.
Cristobal’s gratitude is eloquent. “God was the first one to watch over me. Then God put the doctors and nurses in place to care for me. I’m thankful to everyone. The doctors do everything in their power to save lives. They give it their all.”
The men who shot Cristobal were never apprehended, but he doesn’t hold a grudge. Instead, he prays for them. He and his family have moved to a safer neighborhood, and while the past year has caused financial strain, he is optimistic about the future. He continues to work with doctors to overcome physical and emotional obstacles.
Cristobal warns people to be aware of their surroundings. If someone looks like they’re up to no good, they probably are. “Be cautious,” he says.