DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) — A doctor is thankful to be alive after surviving an ambush and shooting while on a humanitarian mission in Haiti.
Dr. Doug Barbella shared his story Thursday at Delray Medical Center, where he is now recovering.
Barbella was shot in the face, shoulder and spine after, he said, a gang of about 120 to 150 men ambushed his group.
Barbella and eight others were headed to Petit Paradis from Port-au-Prince to treat patients when the shooting occurred on April 4.
“Immediately, the bad guys started shooting their guns, jumping on top of the vehicle and started pulling people out,” said Barbella.
He said the driver of the vehicle he was riding in reversed while the men continued shooting at them.
“There was a hailstorm of bullets coming at us,” said Barbella.
Barbella said he started yelling after the bullets struck him, but no one could hear him.
“So I’m thinking I’m above my body, I’m not in my body, so I got to be in a different realm here,” said Barbella.
Barbella said he then started talking to God.
“‘I got a son and a wife that love me, that need me, that I love dearly.’ I said, ‘This cannot be my time. Put me back in, and I will take your words to the ends of the earth,’ and He did,” said Barbella. “As soon as I finished that prayer, I felt settled back into my body, and I yelled again, ‘Guys, I’ve been shot!’ Immediately, they turned around.”
But Barbella’s nightmare still wasn’t over.
“One of the guys put his gun right up to the back of my head,” he said, “and just before he squeezed the trigger, a guy showed up from nowhere and said to Drew, ‘It’s going to be OK.’ He put his hand on him, and Drew said he felt the peace of God come through his body.”
Barbella said the gang of men took $11 from him before allowing his group to leave.
It took an hour to get Barbella to the nearest hospital, where doctors managed to stabilize him.
Barbella was then flown to Delray Medical Center for treatment.
“There were four fragments we were concerned with. Two were near the carotid artery and jugular vein as I mentioned, and two were at the back of the throat, sitting right on top of the cervical spine,” said Dr. Ravi Randhawa, one of Barbella’s doctors at the medical center.
After several lengthy operations, surgeons were able to remove the dangerous fragments.
Doctors said Barbella will now make a full recovery.
“Even in a tragedy like this, God is still able to enter me and bring me out of this,” said Barbella. “I see a lot of God all over this.”
Barbella is expected to go home within the next few days.
Despite the shooting, Barbella said he can’t wait to get back to Haiti and that the people there need him.
Barbella has been volunteering in humanitarian missions for about 30 years.
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