Like injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, student survives shot to the head
Published: Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07
When sophomore chemical engineering major Mark Steinhubl heard the national headline that broke Jan. 8, he began to pray. U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat from Arizona, had been shot in the head, and her life was in jeopardy. Steinhubl understood the seriousness of the situation since he suffered an eerily similar injury two years ago.
The bullet that hit Steinhubl pierced his skull above his right eye and cut through the right side of his brain. Steinhubl's auditory functioning was lost on the right side, and the bullet took out his right eye.
Steinhubl's roommate and friend, senior civil engineering major Matthew Megally, said he could not believe Steinhubl survived the incident once he heard the story.
"When we were getting to know each other, I asked what happened to him because I was under the impression that he had a lazy eye," he said. "If someone is shot in the head, where the bullet enters the right side and exits left or vice versa, it crosses the central barrier between the right and left lobes of the brain and is almost always fatal."
Not only did the bullet damage half of Steinhubl's brain, it also caused a potentially fatal upsurge of spinal fluid. A piece of his skull had to be surgically removed due to the pressure it was causing.
Immediately after being shot, Steinhubl was transported to Ben Taub General Hospital where a number of neurological tests were performed on him. After four major surgeries in four weeks, Steinhubl was taken to the rehabilitation center where Giffords is being treated now – The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research Memorial Hermann in Houston. The rehab facility is the fifth-best hospital in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report Magazine.
At the time of his injury, Steinhubl was a senior at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory. He was on the varsity rugby team. Court records show that a fellow classmate shot Steinhubl at a friend's house on the morning of Jan. 4, 2009. Despite the shooting and the daunting recuperation that faced him, Steinhubl graduated high school in May and fulfilled his dream of beginning classes at Texas A&M that August.
Megally is inspired by his friend's perseverance and is excited that more people are hearing his story.
"Now Mark is in great shape and is completely independent. It is only because a congresswoman got hurt that Mark [gets] to tell his story, which I [think] is a shame," he said. "He is giving everyone a good reminder that guns are dangerous and should be handled more carefully."
Unlike Giffords, the bullet that hit Steinhubl remains in his head. After months of recovery and learning how to perform simple tasks like tying shoes and getting dressed, Steinhubl was able to re-acclimate to normal life.
Steinhubl said: "Progress was going too slow for me. Having to relearn the things you learn as a child was tough on me mentally because in my mind I could see myself knowing how to do these things already."
Steinhubl has overcome his injury, especially in the area of his studies, Megally said. He also helps his friend with math homework from time to time.
"I know he's still got his brain. Sometimes when I sit down with him to work out math problems for calculus three, he'll figure out the problem before I can finish it," Megally said.