PHOENIX (KSAZ) - A teen who had a 1 in 1,000 chance of survival after being shot in the chest has met the first responders who saved his life.
The meeting happened Wednesday, and the teen said meeting these men and women was one of his biggest wishes.
The reunion between Eric Mendez and the first responders was an emotional one, and it almost didn't happen. The shooting, while accidental, was so severe that if it weren't for the fast-moving, quick-thinking first responders, Mendez might have died.
"We needed a hero, so that's who you became," said Margaret Chavez, Eric's grandmother. "Thank you for saving us from the storm."
In 2016, Eric, then 12 years old, was shot in the chest by a family member.
"It came through my arm right here, it came out," said Eric. "It came in my chest here, and out the side, and then it came in through my other arm."
Fire crews were there minutes after.
"When we first got there, he was pulse-less and was apneic," said William Benedict, an engineer and paramedic with Phoenix Fire. "He didn't have a pulse, and he wasn't breathing."
Eric was rushed to Phoenix Children's Hospital, where pediatric trauma surgeons took over.
"Once we opened his chest, we found he had a hole in his heart," said Lisa McMahon, a pediatric trauma surgeon at PCH. "Then, at that point, we were giving blood, we were doing everything we could. The team was excellent. Then we were able to sew that hole."
Doctors said someone in Eric's situation has a less than 1% chance of survival. Eric, however, has beaten the odds, and is aliving proof that miracles do happen, with a little help from some amazing first responders, and a group of doctors.
"I'm happy to be alive," said Eric. "They saved me, and they save other people too."
"Everyday, I remember how important he is in our life," said Chavez.
Despite surviving, Eric has to do a few things differently now, and gets tired easily. It is, however, a small price to pay for being alive.