10 People Who Survived Gunshot In The Head

Who survived being shot because of a brain defect? Who walked around with a bullet in his face for 31 years? Here are 10 people who miraculously survived being shot in the head.


10 Patrick Ireland

patrick ireland columbine survivor

The most famous survivor of one of America’s most infamous killing rampages, Patrick Ireland was known as the “Boy in the Window” in coverage of the Columbine massacre. Ireland took not one, but two shots to the head, as well as one to the leg. Ireland was knocked out from the blast, leaving the others in the room to assume he’d been killed. So they evacuated without him. When Ireland regained consciousness, he dragged himself across the room to the window – which took him three hours – where he found waiting SWAT team members ready to help him. Aside from a slight limp, Ireland made a full recovery.


9 Ben Smith

Ben Smith survived the shot

Ben Smith and his friend were out with their air rifles one day, just shooting at some rabbits. But then, in a stunning display of firearm safety, his friend decided to joke around by shooting Smith point blank in the head. Apparently, he thought the gun was empty. Smith survived the shot, but the bullet is now surrounded by fluid and cannot be removed. Even the slightest bump could knock it loose and cause permanent brain damage. The friend never said anything about it, except for a text message that said “sorry.”


8 Paul Kern

Paul Kern Hungarian soldier

Paul Kern was a Hungarian soldier in World War 1, who took a bullet from a Russian sniper directly to his frontal lobe. The fact that he survived is impressive, considering we’re talking about 100-year-old medical technology that saved him. But what’s more interesting is that the damage to his brain made him unable to sleep. Ever. He went the next 40 years of his life unable to sleep for even a second. So remember kids, next time you need to pull an all-nighter… drink coffee or something.


7 Michel Vaujour

Michel Vaujour surviving a gunshot

You can’t say this about very many people, but surviving a gunshot wound to the head isn’t even Michel Vaujour’s primary claim to fame. And it even happened during a bank robbery and put him into a coma. But much more notable is what happened in his life immediately before that. Vaujour is best known for being airlifted out of a French prison by his lover flying a helicopter.


6 Alistair McKinney

Alistair McKinney Taliban soldier

Irish soldier took a sniper bullet from a Taliban soldier that hit him in the side of his head, and exited above his right ear, taking some of his brain with it. And despite not being the prettiest thing to look at in recovery, he survived. He is wheelchair-bound, partially blind, and needed rehab to re-learn how to speak. He’ll need permanent care to maintain his injury. But he’s alive, and looks to have a full life still in front of him.


5 Darnal Mundy

Darnal Mundy shot himself

Darnal Mundy is a little different from the others on this list. He’s 3 years old. And he shot himself. It was an accident, of course. The kind of accident that happens when a 3-year-old gets ahold of a loaded Glock while reaching for an iPad. This is something that happens hundreds of times every year in America, but this is a rare one with a happy ending. He needed a long rehab and recovery process, but Mundy is back to talking and walking, and no longer needs a feeding tube.


4 Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai international inspiration

Malala Yousafzai is an international inspiration, not because she was shot, but because of the reason. Malala was long an advocate for girls’ rights to education in her native Pakistan. That doesn’t sit particularly well with the Taliban, which holds influence in her hometown. So one day a gunman boarded her bus and shot her and two of her friends. She survived the encounter, won the Nobel Peace Prize, and now her message is stronger than ever.


3 Petra Anderson

Petra Anderson brain defect

Petra Anderson has a brain defect. And no, that’s not because she was shot in the head. It’s actually the other way around. She didn’t even know she had the defect, but it saved her life. She has a rare genetic condition in which a small fluid channel runs through her brain from front to back. In the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, Anderson was one of those shot. Miraculously, the bullet went straight through that fluid channel and lodged itself in the back of her brain, doing almost no damage at all. Surgeons were able to remove the bullet in a 5-hour surgery, and she has pretty much been able to go on with her life normally.


2 Gabrielle Giffords

U.S. House Representative Gabrielle Giffords

U.S. House Representative Gabrielle Giffords was holding an event at a Tucson grocery store to talk to people in her district directly. It was there that a man opened fire on the crowd, injuring 19 people and killing 6. Giffords was one of those hit, and some quick first aid by her intern is credited with saving her life. Doctors had to remove the damaged part of Giffords’ skull to prevent swelling from damaging her brain, but her physical and mental recovery from the incident is within the top 5 percent of patients.


1 Jacob Miller

Jacob Miller American Civil War

Nobody could ever doubt Jacob Miller’s story about being shot in the face during the American Civil War. He walked around most of his life with the bullet to prove it. In his face. Miller was struck right between the eyes and left for dead. When he woke up, the battle was over, and he used his rifle as a crutch to drag himself from behind enemy lines back to his camp. The medics there also assumed he wouldn’t pull through, and so made no attempt to operate on the wound. Miller went on to live for another 54 years, to the age of 76. 17 years after he was shot, a piece of buckshot fell out of his wound. 31 years after, two pieces of lead fell out, at which point his wound was finally empty.

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