One year after shooting, 17-year-old thanks St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children staff that saved his life

After an emotional reunion at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Ivan Cuevas assured the doctor that saved his life that he did not go ziplining, as she requested.

That’s on the short list of things the soon-to-be 18-year-old has to hold off on, for now. And, one year ago today, that list wasn’t even a thought.

On October 18, 2021, Ivan was near Jean’s Pizzeria and Grill at Rowland and Ryan avenues with some friends after dismissal from Abraham Lincoln High School when gunfire erupted

According to the Philadelphia Police Department, a fight broke out and 21-year-old Aaron Scott opened fire. One of the bullets struck and killed 66-year-old Jeffery Carter, who happened to be driving through the intersection. 

Ivan was struck in the head, millimeters from his brain stem, as he was trying to run away from the indiscriminate gunfire.

"Ivan is a true St. Christopher’s miracle," said Dr. Tina Loven, a neurosurgeon who helped save Ivan's life. "He was pretty much not deemed survivable."


When he was rushed to the hospital, Dr. Loven says she used a Glasgow Coma Scale and deemed Ivan to be at a three, which meant there was little hope that was he was going to make it. 

"Three being, not doing anything. We kept going back and looking at his imaging and pretty much everyone was shaking their heads saying there’s no way, until we saw Ivan had one brain stem reflex left," said Dr. Loven. "We said, ‘Okay, there’s nothing to lose, we’re going to take a chance.’"                                                                                                                                  

Dr. Loven and her partner performed a procedure that took compression off Ivan’s brain stem, which allowed him to unexpectedly wake-up and start responding.

"I’m so grateful that she took that chance with him," said Natali Rosario, Ivan’s mom.     

In March, Fox 29’s Kelly Rule sat down with Ivan, his mom, and stepmom, after they were finally back home after several surgeries and in-patient care at Moss Rehab.

Ivan had to re-learn how to walk, talk, and eat, and he’s only continued to make miraculous strides since then.

"To be talking to you right now, it’s just a blessing," said Ivan.


He is now back at Lincoln High School full-time, playing basketball, and working at McDonald’s. On the official one-year anniversary of the traumatic shooting, he got to reunite and thank the St. Christopher’s staff that saved his life and stood by his side during a month of uncertainty.

"He could’ve let that ruin his life and be miserable and be angry and retaliate, but he’s done the complete opposite," says Ivan’s stepmom, Rhiannon Hope.

As the city combats a gun violence epidemic plaguing young people, Ivan’s parents say it is not lost on them that they are technically the lucky ones—Ivan is here.

"Ivan just shows us that there’s hope in the epidemic that’s happening out there," said Rosario.

Every day, Ivan gets to make a choice in how he embraces the second chance at life that was given to him by the doctors and nurses at St. Christopher's. 

"Keep going, keep trying at it, making it better, having a positive mindset, that’s all you can really do," said Ivan. "I’m not sure what direction I’m going to go in, but I’m looking forward to getting better and being successful."