'It was day-to-day for at least a week. A doctor told me I was lucky'

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Gareth Wyn-Jones, 32, a book editor with publishers Europa, nearly died from stab wounds sustained during an assault in May 1995. He told his story to Vanessa Thorpe.

"It was just an unexpected incident that came at me out of a rainy sky one night. I was walking home through Russell Square [in central London]. It wasn't late - just about pub closing time near where I work in Bloomsbury. There were lots of people around and it was quite well lit.

"This group, three girls and a boy, were coming towards me. They seemed quite drunk and as I passed them they started hassling me.

"They asked why I was looking at them. I wasn't , I was just trying to get by. Then one of the girls hit me.

"I said: 'This is silly,' and threatened to call for the police. Then the boy came back and I thought he thumped me in the stomach. It turned out he had stabbed me with a screwdriver, but all my bleeding was internal.

"I felt sick and had to sit down. Actually I must have passed out and fallen over because what seemed like moments later there was a crowd of people around me saying I ought to get treatment for a cut on my face.

"Luckily it happened near University College Hospital and there was an ambulance crew around that had just come on duty. The injury had severed one of the big veins coming back up to the heart and damaged my bowel. I was lucky to have been near the right hospital with the right surgeon. I lost a lot of blood - they had to give me 30 pints during the operation.

"I had no awareness of how serious it all was. I do remember there was a policeman by my side for a while, because the police were treating it as a potential murder investigation. [No one was ever convicted of the attack.]

"I found out later I had only had a one-in-five chance of survival. It was very much day-to-day for at least a week. A doctor told me I was very lucky.

"It will take years to get back full strength and stamina, but I will never moan about paying my taxes again."