Young knife crime victim needed 36 operations after being stabbed, major trauma surgeon reveals

Ellen Manning
·3 min read

A young knife crime victim needed 36 operations in his battle for survival after being stabbed, a leading major trauma surgeon has revealed. 

Adam Brooks, head of the East Midlands Major Trauma Centre based at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, revealed the grim reality of the young victim's treatment as part of a campaign to tackle the scourge of knife crime.

Urging young people not to carry knives, he said: "I think it’s really important to be frank. People die from knife wounds on a daily basis across the whole country despite all the excellence that major trauma centres like ours provide.

"Knives can kill people. We see that and we work very hard to get people to live through the trauma of knife violence and the physical and psychological impacts associated with it."

Adam Brooks urged young people not to carry knives. (Stock image: Getty)
Adam Brooks urged young people not to carry knives. (Stock image: Getty)

He added: “There’s no such thing as a safe place to stab someone. Somebody might think it’s just a flesh wound but if you are stabbed in the wrong part of your body, and that’s one of a dozen different places, you’ve got a very good chance of dying.

"If you get hit somewhere else you may need major surgery, need to stay in hospital for weeks or months, and then there are the long-term consequences of wounds which are often life-changing.

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"It’s not been unusual for us to see very young teenagers who have been involved in knife violence. Some have been here for their third time and their third major abdominal surgery after a stabbing incident."

His plea comes as part of a national campaign dubbed Operation Sceptre, which launches on Monday, 26 April, to tackle knife crime.

Watch: Mother of 15-year-old who was stabbed to death calls on others to report knife crime

Nottinghamshire Police also has its own dedicated knife crime teams whose activity include: community weapons sweeps, patrols in knife crime hot-spot areas and proactive operations as well as work to engage with children and young people around the issue.

Nottinghamshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Gerard Milano said: "While knife crime has continued to fall in Nottinghamshire we will never be complacent and we’re still working relentlessly all year round to drive down violent crime even further and keep people safe.

"Any incident is one too many. Each and every knife that we’re able to remove from circulation represents a potential to save lives."

The drop in knife crime in Nottinghamshire is due in part to its Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), which brings together organisations across local communities to tackle violent crime and address its underlying causes. 

Dave Wakelin, Director of Nottinghamshire’s VRU, said: "We know first-hand from our work with bereaved families and communities the devastation and pain knife crime inflicts.

"It is vital young people understand the reality too before making decisions that could cost them their own lives and the lives of others.

"This is why we continue to invest in poignant and hard-hitting campaigns in the language and medium young people relate to.

"We are grateful to Adam Brooks for sharing his insight into the physical and psychological effects of violence as part of our HashtagNG campaign and will continue to explore opportunities to engage young people at risk of crime and violence to change lives in the future."

Brooks added: “The most important advice I can give is please don’t carry or use a knife. The worst experience in my career is talking to families and telling them that their child or their brother has not survived. That’s something I never want to do again."

Watch: Mothers recall 'hardest call' after sons were stabbed to death