Title says it all — is it really possible to survive a bullet in the brain? Any medical advice ?

Posted by JF , 30 September 2010

By Editor

23 thoughts on “Survive a bullet in the head?”
  1. Yes it is, recently an American woman was shot through the head, the bullet went right through the brain and the Woman stayed conscious and even opened the door to the Police when they arrived. Importantly,the bullet stayed in one piece, it did not disintegrate and it went through an area of the brain that does not have any obvious vital functions before exiting through the skull.The Woman made a full recovery.

    Posted by tobyellenorhotmail.com in Bree, B ,

  2. The gun used was described as a boy scout’s gun. i imagine that the ammunition was light weight too. Anyway the alternative is unthinkable, the bullet kills her and I am not able to relish the prospect of book 3.

    Posted by sue fraser in chippenham wiltshire ,

  3. It’s certainly not common, but it happens. People have even driven themselves to the hospital, called 911 themselves, etc. after GSWs to the head.

    Posted by Hitachi Wanda in NorCal ,

  4. It is absolutely possible…>A man who worked for my family FOR YEARS was shot in the heat with a .22; you have to remember this is a smaller calibre….it doesn’ t have a whole lot of “ammo” or grains to fill when you’re filling the bullet.. Anyhoo… Curtis not only lived, but he continued to work for my family with only an occaisionaly bout of epilepsy…

    Posted by Michele Latham in Charlotte Nc ,

  5. Totally possible. Not good when you go in a MRI as it heats up!!!!

    The brain can handle a bullet but not the associated bleeding or infection.

    Posted by frabro MD in melbourne.vic ,

  6. The key to a firearm, any firearm, being effective, is shot placement. With a .22 caliber round the shot placement is even more critical than with others. Don’t knock the .22, In the area of Alaska where I live old-timers used them for hunting bear, all kinds, for years.

    Posted by RRogers in Bethel, Alaska, USA ,

  7. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968 by a gunman using a .22 handgun, fired from close range. Shot in the head. Los Angeles P.D. botched the investigation badly, and it is quite possible that the actual hit man got away.

    Posted by Lawrence K in Chiang Mai, Thailand ,

  8. It happens all the time. Like stieg said in the book, we still havent completely figured out the brain yet. I once saw a story about a guy who fell on a drill (like .5 inches across for drilling rock and stuff) and it went through his eye all the way through his head. He was fine after it was removed. People who have brain tumors can also have a sizable amount of their brain cut out depnding on which part it is. We don’t actualy need all of our brain to function normally.

    Posted by Katie in USA ,

  9. In the book it says the bullet was metal jacketted. I always thought .22’s were pure lead, no jacket, too small a calibre.

    Posted by Tiny in Vancouver ,

  10. If you look at what happened to Phineas Gage, then yes its possible to survive a gun shot to the head. plus I know someone personally who has some shrapnel pieces floating around in his head.

    Posted by Anon in chan ,

  11. It certainly is possible, what I don’t understand is why Zala used the .22 when there were larger calibre capable weapons in the vicinity. If he really wanted to make sure she was dead and gone, he should have asked Ronald for his gun or something…

    Posted by Brookins in Baton Rouge ,

  12. In the rush of the moment, one might think so clearly. Grab what is near. A .22 is used in contract killings by mobsters. Relatively quiet, easy to carry, but you must place your shots. Zala, no doubt half drunk and in panic didn’t. But also no doubt figured the burial would be final in any event.

    Posted by Pilot in Sto ,

  13. you’re talking about a small caliber bullet, .22, from a short-barreled gun, a “mouse gun” in fact -very little velocity upon impact, especially if it was a .22 short. it’s not only possible, it is quite likely that she would survive. A .22 is a killer’s weapon, true, but only in expert hands, directed at lethal spots.

    Posted by Doc in west palm beach ,

  14. Yeah, Tom, I was going to say the same thing. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona survived gunshot to the head and was even able to travel to Washington to cast a vote.

    Posted by Teresa in Los Angeles, CA ,

  15. I agree it is possible, but I would have preferred if the bullet had hit a thin tree branch first, lost some velocity, then hit her.. I would have found that more palatable. I also wish the author had specified it was a 22 short.

    Posted by Chris in Toronto ,

  16. My boyfriend was shot in the head I think he’s brain dead is there anyway to come back????

    Posted by shameeks in buffalo ,

  17. I personally have a 22lr round near the base of my brain. It’s been there for 17 years and although my vision has been affected, I have been blessed to have a successful, extremely technical career.

    I believe when I was in recovery, the doc said this type of wound sees an 8% survival rate.

    Posted by Anon in Yuengling ,

  18. Zalachenko was a debilitated old man who had suffered serious burn injuries. The Browning is a very convenient pocket sized pistol with little recoil. The 9mm/.38 inch pistols available have a substantial kick. And who could expect a person to dig themselves out of a grave. Also mentioned was the lack of soil compaction when the grave was filled in.

    Posted by Rob in Toronto ,

  19. Larsson’s knowlege of guns is a bit vague in places–but as a second gun many cops carry as a”hidaway”gun a.22 and .25 caliber (often an automatic as was the Browning in question in ankle holsters or in the belt holster (designed for handcuffs). Zalachenko brought it along probably because he wanted to be armed–he was a trained assassin and the SIG Sauer was the gun they intended to use to dispatch Lisbeth: It went into the bushes and Larsson says Zala was glad he had put the Browning in the pocket of his jacket when he decided to accompany Niedermann to the grave site.

    As an assassin, I thought he would “put two in the head to be sure” which is axiomatic–Bin Ladin got one in the body mass and two in the head from the Seals as a matter of training.

    Posted by turtle in California ,

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