Houston doctor teams up with CDC to research gun violence as public health issue

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Back in 2018, Sir Romeo Milam was inside his Sunnyside apartment and watching TV with his grandmother when his entire life quickly changed.

"Well, I think Sir Romeo's case is what inspired me to look at firearm violence in the first place," said Dr. Bindi Naik-Mathuria.

A stray bullet from a gun fight outside managed to tear through the baseboard to the boy's home and his body, causing major damage to his spinal cord. He was just 4 years old at the time.

Dr. Mathuria, who is affiliated with both Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital, was one of several doctors who treated Sir Romeo, who came to them in very bad shape.

"He almost died multiple times," she said. "He needed 30 operations and was in the hospital for a year."

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But Sir Romeo's story has taken a much different turn than most because, according to Dr. Mathuria, this child not only survived his injuries, but is now doing well and is considered a success story for kids impacted by gun violence.

According to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, in 2018, 4,775 children and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24 were victims of homicide, which is an average of 13 victims per day.

Because of the staggering number of victims of gun violence, Dr. Mathuria will be taking a deeper and closer look at the issue as part of a research grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During the two year research project, more details will be gathered about instances of gun violence, including details from police reports and the medical examiner's office.

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The goal is to better understand where these shootings are happening, the circumstances and common risk factors, so that preventative measures can be developed and deployed.

"[Sir Romeo] was so inspiring, because a young, innocent child should not be getting shot like that while at home watching TV," Dr. Mathuria said.

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