Children’s Health and Financial Struggles After Surviving Gun Violence

Tragic Gun Violence Survivor Story: Oronde McClain

When Oronde McClain was just 10 years old, he was struck by a stray bullet on a Philadelphia street corner, causing catastrophic injuries that have shaped his life ever since. The bullet shattered the back of his skull into 36 pieces, and despite being technically dead for over two minutes, he was revived by hospital staff, though not without lasting consequences. Following the incident that left him in a coma for seven weeks and wheelchair-bound for almost two years, McClain endured lingering struggles. He underwent multiple surgeries, emerged partially paralyzed on his right side, and continues to cope with seizures and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The long-term impact of trauma from gun violence is underappreciated. A new study in Health Affairs found that young survivors of gun violence are significantly more vulnerable to various health challenges. In the year after being shot, they were more than twice as likely as other children to experience a pain disorder, and were also found to face increased risks for psychiatric and substance use disorders. The study also reflected a greater economic burden on families, with an average additional expense of $35,000 for each young survivor’s healthcare compared to non-injured peers.

The medical and emotional needs of gun violence survivors are profound. Yet, according to a KFF survey, most Americans have been personally affected by gun violence in some way. Surprisingly, the number of children and adolescents affected by shooting incidents is significantly larger than the fatalities alone.

McClain’s story is a reminder that the impact of gun-related violence extends far beyond visible physical wounds. The ongoing psychological and emotional distress can be just as detrimental as the physical injuries. The ripple effect is felt not only by survivors but also by their families, placing long-term burdens on their mental health and wellbeing. Consequently, McClain’s personal journey, from the depths of despair to his current role advocating and narrating experiences of other survivors, offers a beacon of hope and inspiration.

KFF Health News, also known as Kaiser Health News (KHN), stands at the forefront of uncovering and addressing pressing health issues. As part of KFF, their commitment to delivering comprehensive and impactful journalism is a vital resource in the realm of health policy research and public health awareness.


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