Vet learns years later he survived bullet in heart

Saturday, December 1, 2001

PHILADELPHIA -- When infantryman Donald Morehouse awoke at a military field hospital in 1953, surgeons told him a bullet had missed his heart by an inch.

On Tuesday, the 70-year-old Korean War veteran underwent bypass surgery and received a different diagnosis: the slug hadn't missed at all. It passed directly through his heart.

"The surgical team had a collective jaw drop when we saw this," said Dr. James McClurken of Abington Memorial Hospital. "Most people would have been dead from this type of wound within an hour."

Surgeons discovered scars from an entrance wound on his heart's left atrium and an exit wound on the right atrium. McClurken said the bullet must have passed through the heart so cleanly that the wound closed itself.

"I'm a little in shock," Morehouse said. "I felt fine afterward."

Morehouse said he was hit seven times on June 12, when his 25th Infantry Division unit was ambushed. Six bullets deflected off his bulletproof vest.

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