Karla Flores was peacefully selling seafood on the street when she heard an explosion. An object hit her face, knocking her down. When she woke up she was in a hospital with a live fragmentation grenade stuck inside her face.
Eight hours later, Karla had an operation that took out the deadly device that could have killed her and everyone else within a 32-foot radius. This is how it all happened.
The 32-year-old Karla Flores, mother of three, was selling seafood under a hellish sun on a street of Culiacán, the largest city in the state of Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico. Suddenly she heard an explosive noise. When she tried to turn around to see what it was, she was smashed by an object on her face. The impact made her fall violently on the sidewalk. All she remembers from that moment is that she felt a burning sensation on her face and, when she touched it, there was blood on her hands.
Luckily for her, an anonymous passerby took her in a car and drove her to the hospital. There, doctors saw that something was inside her head, on the right side of her face. She thought it was some kind of rock from an explosion, and tried to tell that to the doctors:
The doctor asked me what happened. I told him that I thought a stone hit me. Then they started to look and discovered that it was some kind of projectile, but they didn't know what it was.
The x-ray and the tomography showed a weird object stuck between the superior and inferior jawbones. Upon inspection, it was quickly identified by military personell as the head of a fragmentation grenade. Apparently, the grenade was fired with a grenade launcher—the noise that Karla heard—but it didn't explode when it hit her face.
The device, however, could have exploded at any moment, killing everyone in a 32-foot radius (10 meters). Just one wrong movement and that would be it. Quickly, the hospital personell isolated Karla far away from the rest of the patients. At that time, she could barely breathe or swallow her own blood and saliva. The clock was ticking, it was too dangerous and many doctors didn't want to operate her under those circumstances.
Finally, the head of the hospital, Dr. Gaxiola Meza, asked for volunteers. Four brave people said yes: Two anesthesiologists, Felipe Ortiz y Cristina Soto, the nurse Rodrigo Arredondo and Dr. Lidia Soto. Along with two explosive experts from the Mexican army, they took Karla to an open field to operate her. They took all the surgical equipment with them, including light sources. That way, in case they made a mistake, nobody but then would have been affected.
There, and only with local anesthesia, Karla had a tracheotomy so she could breathe while they extracted the explosive device. The military experts guided the doctor, who had no armor, to take it out in the right way. She couldn't rotate it, just slowly extract it from the head. Around midnight, the operation was complete.
Karla had to go through other procedures after that. She lost half of her teeth, her face is deformed by the giant scar and, according to the doctors, she has at least three years of operations ahead.
In Mexico, they now call her the Miracle Woman. I'm not surprised. [YouTube]
You can keep up with Jesus Diaz the author of this post, on Twitter or Facebook.