Lanarkshire Manchester bombing victim – who lost eye in attack – relives horror one year on and says miracle survival left him ‘feeling reborn’

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A DAD who lost an eye in the Manchester gig terror attack has told how his miracle survival has left him feeling reborn.

Piotr Chylewski’s body was riddled with shrapnel as suicide fanatic Salman Abedi exploded his bomb just yards away.

 Shrapnel wounds cover Piotr's legLes Gallagher – The Sun Glasgow Shrapnel wounds cover Piotr's leg

With his physical wounds still healing, Piotr, 47, got a poignant tattoo as a show of strength ahead of tomorrow’s first anniversary of the Ariana Grande concert atrocity which killed 22.

The inking bears his birthday and the blast date along with the words ‘Born twice’.

It also includes the English city’s worker bee symbol, which became a beacon of hope and defiance for many in the aftermath.

Piotr, of Rutherglen near Glasgow, said: “I’ve been born twice because of this event. I got the tattoo because that’s exactly how I feel.

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“Luckily I’m still here, I’m not number 23. It was horrific.”

Piotr told how he was nearly killed as he texted wife Ewa, 46, and daughter Amelia, 12, while waiting to collect them at the end of the US star’s concert at Manchester Arena.

 The bee has become a symbol of hopeLes Gallagher – The Sun Glasgow The bee has become a symbol of hope

He arrived at the venue around 10.30pm and stood next to a pillar on the right side of the exit foyer as concert goers began to filter out.

Moments later, Abedi, 22, deton-ated his rucksack bomb packed with nuts and bolts — ripping holes in Piotr’s jeans and trainer.

Piotr, who emigrated from Poland 13 years ago, said: “I sent a text to my wife saying ‘I’m here’. I was in the middle of texting where I was when suddenly, bang.

“My phone shattered, I thought it had exploded. My first thought was ‘bloody phone’. Then my vision went in my eye a fraction of a second later — there was shrapnel flying everywhere.

“I didn’t feel any pain, the first thing I did was hit the deck and crawled between the pillar and wall for safety. I was in the army in Poland and I was trained for this — it was instinct.”

Piotr then recalled the harrowing aftermath as he drifted in and out of consciousness.

 He was texting outside when the blast occuredLes Gallagher – The Sun Glasgow He was texting outside when the blast occured  Shrapnel ripped through the airLes Gallagher – The Sun Glasgow Shrapnel ripped through the air

He went on: “After the boom was silence. Then the screaming came and smoke and people running away and panic.

“There were people lying all around me and nuts, bolts and metal everywhere. It was obvious it was a bomb.

“I remember paramedics bringing a young girl on a spinal board.

“They laid her on the ground and were pushing on her chest. There were people screaming her name and shouting ‘Come back’.

“Then I saw the black bags, the body bags. It was horrific. I was really scared for my life because I’d started to feel pain in my stomach.

“I was struggling to breathe — they had an oxygen mask on me. I was also worried about my family.

“My phone was shattered, we weren’t in contact. All I could think was what had happened to my wife and daughter?”

Security staff rushed to stricken victims’ aid and grabbed T-shirts to help stem the bleeding from Piotr’s left eye and body wounds.

The maintenance engineer added: “I kept saying I couldn’t see out my eye, I thought it was just blood in it.

“A police officer called John then turned up and said he could see it, he then stayed with me for a while.

 Suicide fanatic Salman Abedi Suicide fanatic Salman Abedi

“Another cop Pete came and spoke to me to keep me conscious.

"I recognised the nuts because I work with them every day. I took one from my chest and kept hold of it. It turned out I had seven nuts in my body and legs.”

Distraught Ewa and Amelia believed Piotr — also father to Kacper, 16, was dead before they were later reunited in hospital.

He’d been moved to the entrance foyer where paramedics were triaging victims.

He arrived in hospital at 2am — three-and-a-half hours after the explosion.

He was whisked for an MRI scan but before cops took away a nut he was gripping on to.

 22 people lost their lives in the attackMatthew Pover – The Sun 22 people lost their lives in the attack

Piotr added: “I wanted to keep it but they said the police needed it.”

He was rushed straight to theatre where his eye and wounds were operated on.

Piotr had six operations on his eye, torso and legs during his month in hospital in Manchester.

He also had numerous tests on his left eye but two weeks after the bomb, doctors broke the news that they couldn’t save it.

He recalled: “That was the first time I felt sad. I felt a piece of me had been taken away.

"But I’ve always tried to think positively and I had a prosthetic eye put in.”

WIFE'S 15HR ANGUISH AT DEATH FEAR

WIFE Ewa revealed how she feared Piotr had been killed for an agonising 15 hours.

The mum, 46, knew her hubby was waiting for her and daughter Amelia, 12, in the foyer where the explosion took place.

And she was distraught at being unable to contact him — unaware his phone was shattered and he’d been taken to hospital.

But she told of the amazing moment they were reunited.

Ewa said: “I thought he was dead — we didn’t hear anything for 15 hours.

I heard a bang at the end of the gig and someone said ‘this is a bomb attack’.

“We weren’t able to get out the exit where Piotr was. At 2pm the next day, the police came to our hotel room and said I had to come to the hospital.

“They took me into the ward and asked if this was Piotr.

“I was so happy to see him, even though he was sleeping.”

Piotr said he roused to see his wife, daughter and two pals who had draped a had a Scotland flag over his bed.

He said: “I woke and they were all there. Bizarrely, the first thing I asked for was my nut, the one I’d taken out of myself.

“We were only able to talk a short while before I was put in an induced coma for five days.”

The dad still faces at least three operations on his jaw and injured eye in the coming months.

And the attack has taken its toll emotionally on him and his wife.

Piotr admitted: “When I hear a noise now, I’ll jump. I work in an industry where you hear bangs all the time, but it affects me now.

“I’m not back at work yet but that’s because I still have operations to go. But my job is still there for me.

"My wife is suffering from PTSD so she is going through treatment. My daughter is okay though, she’s back to being a typical teenager.”

Piotr revealed the harrowing events as he prepares to return to Manchester for a service where the 22 victims will be remembered.

  • Topics
  • Health
  • hospital
  • manchester
  • Terrorism

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