Last NIU shooting victim leaving hospital

February 26, 2008 3:50:24 PM PST
With a bullet still lodged near her heat, Lauren Debrauwere was released from the hospital Tuesday, 12 days after she was wounded in the shooting at NIU. The 19-year-old is the last surviving student injured in the shooting rampage at Northern Illinois University on February 14 to be released from a medical facility.

Debrauwere's boyfriend, Dan Parmenter, was one of five students killed by gunman Steven Kazmierczak. Witnesses said he shielded her from the hail of bullets. According to Debrauwere's family, she and Parmenter were sitting near the front of Cole Hall when the gunman shot at them. She was hit twice -- once in the hip and again in the abdomen.

The bullet that entered Debrauwere's abdomehit her liver and colon and ended its path lodged in her left chest.

"The bullet did something very unusual in that it went right next to the heart and because of the blast injury it damaged part of the heart muscle that controls one of the heart valves," Northwestern Hospital Doctor Patrick McCarthy said.

Debrauwere will undergo another surgery to fix a leaky heart valve, but the bullet will remain near her heart.

"Lauren's recovery has been difficult and, at times, unbearable for her both mentally and physically. She has a tough road ahead of her, but we are humbled and very grateful that we have her with us here today. Our hearts are heavy and our prayers go out to the five families who lost their loved ones," said Brittany Debrauwere, Lauren's sister.

"The outpouring of support has been wonderful," said Mary Debrauwere, Lauren's mother.

"We thank god for Doctor Stephen Goldman, the Kishwaukee Community Hospital trauma surgeon who saved Lauren's life by providing her with the initial surgery that stabilized her for her transport to come here," said Brittany Debrauwere.

"We think her long-term prognosis is just excellent. We think she's going to be just fine," said Dr. Goldman.

"She is in a great deal of pain. We take her recovery a day at a time," said

"To everyone who has been praying for Lauren's recovery around the world? please continue to keep Lauren and our family in your thoughts and prayers," said Brittany Debrauwere.

Debrauwere will not return to school this semester.