The Arrow That Saved My Life—Twice
Reader's Digest US|July - August 2020
After a freak backyard accident almost kills her, a Texas woman is taken on a miraculous medical journey
By Donna Barbour

EDITOR’S NOTE After we published “How Is He Still Alive?” about a ten-year-old boy who survived a harrowing head injury caused by a skewer, we received a letter from Donna Barbour. Barbour had her own story to tell, and she assured us it was every bit as frightening—and perhaps even more miraculous. She may be right. It was a warm April evening, and I had gotten home from work about an hour earlier. As I often did after a long day, I went straight to my backyard and did some work in my flower garden before deciding to light the grill to make dinner for my husband and myself. I had only just walked a few steps on the patio when I suddenly felt a horrifying blow to the right side of my neck. It felt as though someone had hit me with a baseball bat. I knew that no one was in the yard with me, so no one could have hit me. Totally confused, I reached up and, to my shock and horror, realized that I had been shot—with an arrow.

I grabbed the arrow with a death grip where it had pierced my neck and ran inside, screaming my husband’s name. Ed was in the back of the house talking to our daughter, Keila, on the phone. He dropped the phone and ran to me. Ed grabbed me by the shoulders to stop me from running and told me to lie down on the couch. Then he went to call 911. I lay there and prayed. I didn’t know if there was any way that I could survive.

The next hour or so was a crazy, jumbled mix of events. The arrow had come from a young man practicing with a compound bow, used for hunting, in his backyard. Luckily, he was using a practice arrow, which is smooth and rounded; a broadhead arrow for hunting would have killed me. He lived across the alley and was shooting to the north. The arrow had ricocheted and turned back to the south. It went over two, possibly three, fences, through the shrubs and an oak tree, between two large hanging baskets, and into my neck as I walked across the patio. A shot from a compound bow can travel up to 200 miles per hour, or 300 feet per second.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM READER'S DIGEST USView All

RESCUE ON THE HIGH RISE BRIDGE

With his truck dangling 70 feet above a roiling river and a storm whipping 50-mph winds, a trapped driver’s only hope is a team of trained emergency rescuers—who are stuck in traffic

9 mins read
Reader's Digest US
March 2021

Lift Your Own Spirits

We all feel down now and then, especially lately. These techniques can help you bounce back.

5 mins read
Reader's Digest US
March 2021

GO AHEAD, DO NOTHING

We push ourselves to work harder, but taking a break can often fuel a burst in productivity and creativity

3 mins read
Reader's Digest US
March 2021

SWISH BURN LOVE

IT’S NOT PRETTY, AND IT’S NOT SWEET: HOW BROWN LISTERINE BECAME NO. 1 IN AMERICANS’ HEARTS AND MOUTHS

6 mins read
Reader's Digest US
March 2021

A Teacher's Lifesaving Call

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Julia Koch began what was only her second year as a first-grade teacher in a virtual classroom at Edgewood Elementary School in Muskegon Heights, Michigan. One September afternoon a few weeks into the school year, she received a call from Cynthia Phillips, who was having technical difficulties with her granddaughter’s tools for online learning.

2 mins read
Reader's Digest US
March 2021

From Role Model to Runway Model

A disabled activist won’t let Twitter trolls stop her from seeing herself as she really is—a star

3 mins read
Reader's Digest US
March 2021

The FOOD ON YOUR PLATE

I Am Pistachios … An American Success Story

4 mins read
Reader's Digest US
March 2021

24-Karat Nuggets About Gold

13 Things:

3 mins read
Reader's Digest US
March 2021

Rules for Being the Age You Are

Whether you’re 20 or 120, the author’s surprise-filled guide can help most anyone live happily ever

4 mins read
Reader's Digest US
March 2021

The Power of Family

This year, we asked readers a question: "When you think of 'family', what's the image you see?" The winning submissions, and the stories behind them, were all universal and remarkably moving.

4 mins read
Reader's Digest US
July - August 2020