Stabbing victim Lasse: “Paying off my debt”
“I remember being stabbed and that it didn’t hurt at all. The pain came only later.” One day before Midsummer Eve some twenty years ago, Lasse Vaajanen was stabbed in his side with a 15-centimetre knife. Without the help of tens of blood donors and skilful surgeons, he would surely have died.
Before Midsummer 1991, Lasse Vaajanen, who was in his twenties at the time, was celebrating the birth of his friend’s child and his own housewarming party in Eastern Helsinki. A large group of young men took part in the festivities. Later in the evening they went to a bar.
The men were united by a love for motorcycles. Lasse’s army buddy had taken a bike from the bike storage without permission, and there was a fight following arguments about this. As a result, the bouncer ejected one of Lasse’s acquaintances, and the rest continued their evening.
When the bar was closing and Lasse went out into the street, a taxi driver he knew drove by.
“He told me to wait there, and he would pick me up soon. I turned round and saw the same guy who had been thrown out of the bar run towards me and drive a 15-centimetre knife into my side,” says Lasse.
Lasse went into shock. He felt no pain, although the knife went deep.
He remembers trying to get back into the restaurant, but collapsing on the stairs. It took a long time until the restaurant employees realised he needed help. Fortunately an unknown passer-by adjusted his position, because he was in danger of choking to death.
Saved by his good physical condition
Lasse regained consciousness at the intensive care unit of Meilahti Hospital in Helsinki following massive surgery. The knife had damaged his internal organs and come close to the aorta.
“I was told I was as close to dying as is humanly possible."
During a six-hour operation, litres and litres of blood was pumped into him through his groin. According to the doctor, this is three times the amount that is usually running in a person’s veins. The fact that Lasse was in good physical condition probably saved him.
He spent a couple of weeks in hospital, but it took more than a month to recover properly. He also had complications, and had to have another operation because of diaphragmatic hernia.
He was spurred on by support from his friends.
“I was visited by lots of friends and family in hospital. Sometimes there were some twenty guys going through the events."
The stabber got a two and a half year sentence.
Gradually Lasse’s life returned to normal. However, his stomach will never return to what it was, and he can never eat any toffee, orange or fish with bones. Bits of food remaining in his intestine has forced him to back to hospital several times along the years.
“The stomach cannot be opened again, but they try to relieve the pain when this sort of thing happens.”
Blood donation is a privilege
What has come out of all this is that Lasse donates blood regularly.
“I owe big time. The fact that I survived thanks to people who donate blood is a thing that I have to repay throughout my life. I donate about every two months and try to get others to join me. I have a friends who has rather a rare blood group with whom I go together. And anyone happening to be in the car when I’m going to donate will have to join me."
Lasse had been donating blood already before being stabbed and believes he would have continued to do so even without this tragic incident.
“Both of my parents have needed blood, which has made me see how important it is to donate blood. I don’t consider it a responsibility but a privilege.
Now in his fifties, Lasse has a 16-year-old daughter who has moved from home to attend school in another town. He also has a wife and a transport business.
Lasse enjoys many types of sport. He enjoys the freedom that entrepreneurs have – he plays gold and hockey. Golf is a lifestyle for Lasse, and it has also introduced him to a new community. It’s good for your stamina to walk round the golf course several times a week, taking many hours at a time.
“There’s a 78-year-old player in my golf club who can still hit 200-metre opening shots. That’s something to aim for.”
TEXT: Sini Sarvanne
PICTURES: Laura Oja