News: Colorado Shooting
Composer victim of cinema shootings survives bullet to the head thanks to birth defect
Photography Randall Gee, courtesy of Petra Anderson
HARD to believe that anything good could come from the shootings at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado last week that left 12 people dead and many more injured.
But news has emerged of a 22-year-old composer and violinist that survived a shot to the head — thanks to a previously undiagnosed congenital anomaly that kept the bullet from the most vital areas of her brain.
Petra Anderson was left critically injured after being shot four times during the worst mass shooting in US history, including one shot which went in though her nose and became lodged at the back of her brain.
Amazingly, Anderson is now thought to be on her way to a full recovery, thanks to a birth defect which meant the bullet was deflected along a tiny extra tube of fluid, preventing severe brain injury.
According to a blog post written by the family’s pastor, “The buckshot … enters her brain from the exact point of this defect. Like a marble through a small tube, the defect channels the bullet from Petra’s nose through her brain. It turns slightly several times, and comes to rest at the rear of her brain. And in the process, the bullet misses all the vital areas of the brain. In many ways, it almost misses the brain itself. Like a giant BB though a straw created in Petra’s brain before she was born, it follows the route of the defect. It is channeled in the least harmful way.”
Immediately prior to the shooting, Anderson’s mother, Kim, learned that a previously diagnosed breast cancer had spread to her liver, bones and lungs. Her family has started a campaign to raise money for the daughter’s and mother’s medical bills and to support other survivors of last week’s tragic events.
Heartbreakingly, some of Anderson’s recent work as a composer has drawn on the experience of armed forces veterans — one piece from 2010 was entitled Heroes’ Salute: A Musical Tribute To Veterans.
“Petra is a talented young composer whose music shows a penchant for both the lyrical and the experimental,” Anderson’s former instructor and composer/clarinetist Derek Bermel told NPR. “Her recent orchestral work Dual Reflections reveals a daring Ivesian spirit; throughout the piece she explores the piano’s natural resonance, extending it into the orchestral realm.”
He added: “Petra is curious, alert, open-minded, self-critical and very creative,” he continues. “I am proud of her and of course looking forward to seeing and hearing what she writes next!”
Anderson is reported to have begun talking and walking again, but is facing more surgery before she can make a full recovery.