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How long can a person live if he is shot in the heart?

How long can a person live if he is shot in the heart? (I'm doing a research for my novel)? I m doing a research on this, and I really appreciate any help given. Is it possible to stay alive for at least 20 hours, or less?
Thu, 17 Dec 2009
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  User's Response
Well. As is said above, it depends on the damage caused, a shotgun or large caliber round is going to be pretty fatal, pretty quickly - three or four minutes of brain function (no consciousness) on the sunny side. Smaller rounds can leave repairable holes. In theory, if he's got to a trauma team within a (at a rough guess) fifteen minutes and the injury is successfully repaired, he could continue living the rest of his life normally. HEMS in London have done this sort of operation in the field and successfully saved a number of lives. Normally though, the longer the delay between injury and surgical repair, the greater the degree of disability due to oxygen starvation of the brain. Even if they do survive that long they are almost certainly going to be unconscious, intubated and in ITU, which I guess may hurt your storyline. In order to die after 20 hours, there must be a secondary cause - often multiple organ failure, where the various organs of the body (starting with the kidneys) shut down because they were deprived of oxygen whilst the heart wasn't pumping enough oxygenated blood. Other possibilities inlclude infection leading to septic shock.
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