Attack survivor pays tribute to ambulance medics and doctors who saved his life
AS HE was lying in a pool of his own blood, praying for help and pleading with callous security guards to assist him, IT boss Jacob Abraham repeated a single thought: “This is not my time – I am not going to die here tonight.”
This week, following a miraculous recovery from 15 near-fatal stab wounds, the 49-year old father of three said he had no words to describe his gratitude towards the team of doctors, nurses and paramedics from Netcare Greenacres Hospital who saved his life.
“I was in God’s own hands that evening,” he said. “My attacker stabbed me in the neck 12 times yet did not damage a single nerve. He stabbed me in the heart and yet I did not die.
“He stabbed me in the lungs but he did not kill me.
“Now I am looking to find meaning in this attack. Something good must come from it.”
Around 8pm on March 31, Abraham, the owner of IT company Bran Systems, left his office in the Land Bank building in Newton Park.
A few minutes earlier he had called his son and told him to warm up their supper. Then he locked the door to his office.
“The next minute a man grabbed me. He must have been hiding in the shadows. He started stabbing me.
“He stabbed me 12 times in the neck and three times in the chest. One of these stab wounds was in my heart. The pain was terrible. In the scuffle, a gold chain with a cross was pulled from my neck. I have been wearing that chain since I was five.
“Then he forced me to give him my remote so he could get out. Before he left, this man dragged me to the back of the building and left me in the darkness.”
Bleeding profusely, Abraham managed to crawl to the front of the deserted office block. At the time the building did not have its own security guards.
“I shouted for help. The security guards from the office block across the road refused to help me. They said they were not going to get involved.”
For an hour Abraham was lying at the gate begging for help. “I begged them to phone the police and an ambulance. They said they had no airtime.
“I was lying there feeling the blood leaving my body. I think about 30 minutes passed.
“The security guards were still ignoring me. After 45 minutes I tried to climb over the fence. I thought if I could just lie down in the road, there would be a better chance of someone seeing me. It was only then that one of them said they had called the police.”
Abraham does not know who the security guards were or what firm they were from.
“I was praying for help to come. It was then that I realised this was not my time.
“When the ambulance arrived I felt for the first time that I was in safe hands.
“The paramedics worked very fast. I heard them say: ‘We are losing him.’ I just sent up a prayer to God for letting them find me.”
Netcare 911 paramedic Riekert van Schalkwyk said: “When we arrived at the scene responders from Guardmed were already there but they did not have a paramedic. I looked for a pulse and I could only feel a very faint one.
“Mr Abraham was slightly conscious. We were trying to get a drip on but his blood pressure was extremely low.
“I said we had no more time, we had to get him to hospital. The police were still looking for his address and numbers.
“Our aim was to get him to theatre alive,” Van Schalkwyk said. “When I heard later he had made it, I was so happy.”
As news of the attack reached his family, Abraham’s wife Vannessa rushed back from Cape Town – where she and the couple’s teenage daughter had been planning to attend the One Direction concert – and friends rushed to support them.
“They brought so much food that I had to ask them to stop,” Vanessa said.
The family’s priest, Father Brendan Deenihan, arrived at the hospital to pray for Abraham. Just before midnight he was taken to theatre to repair his neck and heart.
Adele Kennedy, from Greenacres Hospital, said: “He was identified as needing immediate life-saving intervention. He had a lost a lot of blood. “The surgery took about 1½ hours. “Surgeons repaired the right ventricle of his heart and sutured wounds to his neck and forehead.”
Veteran heart surgeon Dr Gerhard Oosthuysen was called in to repair the wound to Abraham’s heart while Dr Nico van Niekerk was repairing the damage to his neck.
“The knife did not have a very big blade but it went right through his heart,” Oosthuysen said.
He was full of praise for the paramedics who attended to Abraham. “I think the paramedics deserve high praise for getting him to the hospital alive. His blood pressure was very low. The one thing that was exceptional was the speed at which we managed to get him to theatre and finalise the surgery.”
Oosthuysen said while the stab wounds to the chest were clearly intended to be fatal, he believed Abraham’s sheer will to live and his excellent physical fitness also contributed to his survival.
“I want to stress it takes a whole team of people to perform a surgery like this,” he said.
Meanwhile detectives were fine-combing the parking lot for clues.
Abraham’s new Amarok bakkie was found near the Saltville Post Office in Bethelsdorp the next day.
Abraham said: “Father Brendan stayed the whole time. The next thing I remember is waking up on the Friday with my wife holding my hand.
“It was only then I saw Dr Oosthuysen, Dr Van Niekerk and specialist physician Dr Hein van Straaten. I cannot express how grateful I am.”
Abraham added: “After I woke up the paramedics came to say hello. I just want to thank them for what they did too.”
Medical personnel at the hospital remain astonished at the recovery.
“When he left the hospital a week ago, I took him by the arm and told him: ‘You are my Easter miracle man’,” deputy nursing manager Anita Boers said.
Abraham laughed that his wife would now finally have to stop nagging him about his habit of exercising seven days a week.
“She heard the doctors say I survived because of my physical condition,” he said.
As life slowly returns to normal for Abraham, he said he was trying to make sense of it all. “Something good must come from this.”
No arrests have yet been made.