This week, the Herald is speaking to Kiwis who have survived illnesses, accidents and crimes that almost killed them, as part of our I Should be Dead series.

A pensioner who was stabbed in the chest by an intruder first thought he'd been punched - then he saw the blood "just running out, literally running out".

When Warren McKenzie, 71, realised how badly he was hurt he grabbed a shirt and some tea towels and pressed them against the wound to try to stop the flow as he frantically dialled 111 for an ambulance.

"My whole body and my trousers were just covered in blood," he said as he recalled in an interview with the Herald the night he almost died.

Advertisement

It was June 17 and unseasonably warm - McKenzie had left the door to his Mataura flat open as he watched a Maori All Blacks game.

What happened next left him fighting for his life - and six months later he's still recovering from the trauma.

Read more: Mataura stabbing survivor: 'I will never forget his eyes'

Between 9.30pm and 10pm a man walked in "out of nowhere" and started demanding money. The intruder was screaming and swearing.

After McKenzie twice told him he didn't have any money to give him the man fled. He stabbed McKenzie twice in the chest as he left.

The emergency services arrived quickly, McKenzie said, but he had still lost a lot of blood.

"On the way down [to the hospital] in the ambulance my body went into shock twice. They almost lost me a couple of times but they managed to get me back. Then the doctors at the A&E worked on me for six hours."

The weapon had pierced McKenzie's lung and was 3mm away from a major artery. He spent four days in the intensive care unit.

Advertisement

Although he's fully recovered physically and is healthy enough to go out for daily walks again, the emotional wounds McKenzie suffered that night are still raw.

"I'm trying to process it mentally. I've been dealing with the psychological ramifications of it and I'm seeing a psychologist now through ACC," he said.

"It's been quite helpful because I just can't understand why the hell he had to stab me. Why didn't he just go once he realised he wasn't getting any money?"

He had become "very wary" since the home invasion and had moved to Dunedin to be closer to family.

Warren McKenzie, 71, is seeing a psychologist after nearly dying and hopes to one day work with others who have had injuries that almost killed them. Photo / Greg Bowker
Warren McKenzie, 71, is seeing a psychologist after nearly dying and hopes to one day work with others who have had injuries that almost killed them. Photo / Greg Bowker

But McKenzie said he was determined not to let the events of that night dictate his future.

"I'll get through it. I won't let it affect what years I've got left. I'm not going to allow it to do that because it's not fair, it's not fair if I allow him to do that to me."

Although police are yet to make an arrest in relation to the attack, McKenzie is confident the offender will be caught.

"If they don't grab him through what he did to me they'll grab him for something else ... These individuals always do something - they're very repetitive."

Once he's fully come to terms with the incident McKenzie wants to visit family and friends in Australia and do volunteer work.

"I wouldn't mind getting involved with a group of people who have had this type of thing. If I could help anybody get to grips with themselves or get a better understanding of what happened while they're still busy processing [it], I would lean myself towards that."

McKenzie told the Herald the incident had taught him not to be complacent.

"Believe me, there's nothing like being so close to the edge to bring every fibre in your body to come to a realisation of just how precious life is."