Courage in the Crossfire: Britain's youngest gun crime victim

Thusha Kamaleswaran is reunited with the two paramedics who were first on the scene.
Thusha Kamaleswaran is reunited with the two paramedics who were first on the scene. Photo: ITV News/Ria Chatterjee

There are a few special people who have the ability to lift your spirits and make you feel better about life.

Thusha Kamaleswaran is one of those. Spend just a short time in the company of this engaging eight-year-old and you no longer see the wheelchair in which she spends most of her waking hours.

You even start to forget the reason she first came to the nation's attention as Britain's youngest victim of gun crime.

Instead you are captivated by those bright eyes and a smile that never seems to disappear as she eagerly brings you up to date with the latest little triumph in her battle to confound the experts and achieve her dream of walking again.

Thusha Kamaleswaran became Britain's youngest gun crime victim.
Thusha Kamaleswaran became Britain's youngest gun crime victim. Credit: ITV/Tonight

Thusha was just five years old when she was caught in the crossfire of a gangland shooting.

CCTV captured the dreadful moment the pretty little girl who had been dancing between the shelves of her uncle's grocery store in south London was cut down by a stray bullet.

  • Watch: Courage in the Crossfire at 7.30pm, Thursday 10 October on ITV

"It was just about as touch and go as it is possible to be," says Dr. Vidar Magnusson, who kept Thusha alive performing delicate surgery in the street after her heart stopped.

"We began by doing a thoracostomy, which is basically just making a hole between the ribs and letting the air out.

A CCTV image of Thusha dancing through the aisles of her uncle's grocery store before she was shot.
A CCTV image of Thusha dancing through the aisles of her uncle's grocery store before she was shot. Credit: ITV/Tonight

"When we did that, we heard a massive hiss of air and so there was air and blood basically gushing out of the little hole that I'd made and as soon as I did that, she started breathing again and her pulse came back."

Dr. Magnusson was on attachment to London’s Air Ambulance. He returned to his home in Iceland but has never been able to forget the little girl he saved.

ITV's Tonight programme organised a reunion where Thusha was able to thank many of the medical team from King's College Hospital who kept her alive that night.

Dr Vidar Magnusson travelled 2,000 miles to attend and was rewarded in a way he never imagined when a beaming Thusha proudly announced, "Look, I can move my leg."

There were gasps and then long applause from the assembled ambulance crews, surgeons, nurses and other specialists who all remember the tiny patient left paralysed by the bullet wound.

Thusha's recovery has already exceeded the predictions of those who have treated her.

ITV cameras were allowed to spend time in the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville where her progress is being monitored and encouraged.

On the treadmill and through her exercises she proudly shows off the movement that has returned to her limbs and the fact she now has feeling in both feet.."

At the moment her bodyweight has to be supported by a harness as she is helped to use the treadmill.

"One day I want to walk properly," she says before announcing with a beaming smile, "When I grow up I would like to be a doctor, I've seen what they do."