A mother-of-two, Takieyah Reaves, from Newark, New Jersey, now lives with her intestines hanging out of her abdomen after surviving a horrific nightclub shooting.
Reaves, 32, defied death in July 2017 to survive being shot twice on her stomach and right leg by a random attacker who sprayed bullets at a crowd of night clubbers, injuring three people.
One of the bullets tore her stomach wide open, and it was a miracle that she survived after undergoing intensive surgery to repair her damaged intestines.
After doctors stitched her up, the size of the wound on her stomach made it impossible to close, forcing her to live with a gaping hole on her torso and with the inside of her intestines fully exposed.
Her scar looks so big that some people even mistake it for a pregnancy.
Takieyah was nursed by her mother Tammi Reaves-Duncan as she recovered, she even entered into depression due to her “deformity.”
Takieyah, a criminal justice student, said to Metro UK: ‘It will get patched up properly, but it has been left open and exposed ever since it happened. It bulges and I am constantly asked if I am pregnant when I go out. People ask me if it’s a boy or a girl and I then have to explain everything.’ Takieyah lost 4.5 liters of blood and defied death to survive the shooting.
Takieyah continued: ‘I wasn’t supposed to make it out of hospital alive, my family were told to say their goodbyes. I am so grateful to still be here and be given a second chance at life, but I can’t help feeling depressed by how I looked.”
‘I kept my stomach hidden from everyone for a long time, even from my kids. I was so depressed by my body, I had scars all over and I hated it. ‘I just wanted to curl up in a ball and hide and I was scared to go outside because of guns on the street.
” I also didn’t want anyone to see my body so I found it hard to live my life as normal.”
Doctors created a makeshift lining for Takieyah’s stomach by using skin from her leg.
‘It has changed my life but I am so grateful I am still able to raise my kids. I was depressed for a while but I decided that I couldn’t go on like that for their sake. ‘I do want my body back but I see them as my war scars. People tell me how beautiful I am and I have learned to embrace what happened.’
After three years of living with an open wound, Takieyah is due to have her stomach stitched back together for good, at the end of June this year.
Takieyah speaking about the day she was shot: ‘I thought I was dying and I was so scared about leaving my kids without a mom. It was super scary and really painful, it felt like fire was running through my veins. ‘I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, the guy was firing off gunshots and I was stood in the doorway. I didn’t even realize I had been shot at first, but then I collapsed.
‘I was in the doorstep of the club when I got shot. I remember feeling very tired, like I wanted to go to sleep. My friend Lavona kept telling me to keep my eyes open and listen to the voices.’ ‘I lost 4.5 liters of blood and my doctors told me my heart stopped on the operating table, but I came back. I had surgery to remove the bullets but they had to leave my stomach open like this”