Considering the extent of his injuries, said Dr. Kevin Dwyer, it was amazing that MPO Michael Garbarino hung on as long as he did. Still, everyone was hoping and praying he'd survive the injuries he'd sustained in an ambush last week at the Sully District Police Station.
"He was hit multiple times with high-velocity projectiles," explained Dwyer, co-chief of Trauma Services at Inova Fairfax Hospital. "With the degree of shock he had [to his body], 95 percent of people wouldn't have survived the first 48 hours."
He said Garbarino, 53, and a husband and father, was a fighter and was in good shape but, in the end, his lungs failed and he suffered adult respiratory stress syndrome.
When the officer arrived at the hospital last Monday afternoon, May 8, said Dwyer, "He had so many wounds, it took two hours to dress them all." But after undergoing surgery, he was holding his own and, miraculously, no infection had set in — even as late as Tuesday morning, May 16.
Dwyer described Garbarino as a strong person with a "tremendous desire to live," but said his systems were so weakened by the first 72 hours after the shooting that they couldn't overcome "any other little insult" to them.
He said doctors still don't know whether he'd contracted an infection
but, sometime Tuesday afternoon, Garbarino's pulmonary and cardiovascular systems began to fail until, eventually, all his systems just stopped.
Dwyer said the officer never regained consciousness after the shooting. Now and then, said the doctor, "He showed signs of consciousness and flickered his eyes. But we didn't give him a chance to wake up because then his pulmonary function would worsen. He was also under heavy sedation and analgesics so he wouldn't be in pain."
Addressing a roomful of police officers Wednesday morning at the Massey Building, Dwyer added one more thing before leaving the podium, and his words came from the heart. The whole time Garbarino was in the hospital, he said, "I was deeply moved by the love and support of the police there. Two or more officers were there every day, watching over him."
Trust funds have been established for both the Armel and Garbarino families. Checks, payable to either Armel Family Trust Fund or Garbarino Family Trust Fund may be sent to those names, c/o Fairfax County Federal Credit Union, 4201 Members Way, Fairfax, VA 22030.