Underground operation to revive dead heroin users

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(KTVI)-- We`re going to take you inside an underground movement to stop heroin deaths in St. Louis.  What you`re about to see is illegal in Missouri, but the man behind it says it`s a crusade worth risking jail.

It happens in secrecy, but the people involved say it should not.  They`re illegally giving out a heroin antidote called Narcan. Recovering addict Chad Sabora has a secret unlimited supply.  Police and prosecutors say we are not breaking the law witnessing what he's doingand they're interested in what's emerging from the shadows.

We caught up with Sabora in an alleyway in South St. Louis where he handed out Narcan to a group of people, "You`ve seen the 1 cc vials before.  Most of us have been woken up by this."

He educated them on how to inject it.  Sabora said, "It goes in the arm, the butt or the thigh. It can go right through the clothes. Stay with them, but always call 911."

Sabora gives Narcan to addicts and the people who love them.  He explained to the group, "The only purpose of this drug is to clean your opiate receptors. That`s all it does."

He warns, the person you save may be dangerous, because they'll be in immediate heroin withdrawal.  Sabora added, "Expect them to be pissed. You`re going to wake up dope sick, depending on how much you gave them... you know, you just died, so you`re not going to be in the right state of mind."

Like Steven Zichler who told me, "When I woke up in the hospital, I`d been unconscious in the hotel for like 20 hours. The maids found me, called an ambulance, took me to DePaul hospital where they hit me with the Narcan, woke me up."

Sabora said "Who are we to judge who should live and die?"

Sabora is breaking ground in St. Louis, but similar projects are accepted in other states, like Illinois.

Sabora told a group, "I will inject myself with it to show you how harmless it is."

He says someone saved him with Narcan and now he`s been clean more than two years.

Sabora told the group, before injecting himself, "You`ve see this on the television beforeand the doctors done it. You want to make sure that there`s no air bubbles... like you`re at the doctor`s officeand you inject itand that`s it."

He emphasized, "You have to always call 911 after you administer this.  If the EMTs comeand you`re in Missouri and you`ve shot them up with Narcan, odds are they`re not going to call the cops and arrest you. Odds are they`re going to say thank you because you saved somebody`s life."

Deena Stags watches through tears.

She said, "I wish that I would`ve had that drug available to me 6 months ago."
Reporter Chris Hayes responded, "You think you could`ve done something."
Stags answered, "Absolutely. The person right here, he would still be alive."

Michelle Hummert is getting Narcan in case she has to save her addicted brother. She`s already lost her Cousin, Nick.

As Hummert sat next to her Aunt she said, "It`s been a rough road for our whole family really. Everybody`s touched by it. My brother also lost one of his best friends that made this t-shirt and his year just passed us of his death-anniversary if you will."

Sabora explained, "We`re not enabling drug use here. We`re just giving people the chance to find recovery."

It saved Chad -- and he has saved others.  So has Steven, who told described a deathbed visit that should reminds us this is about more than the addicts.  He said, "My daughter came in the room, and she's 17 now, and she came in and said 'You know Dad, I don't care what's going on, I just need you to be in my life.'"

Chad Sabora just started a Narcan Facebook page called the Osiris Project - https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Osiris-Project/594121890625450

Missouri man is first published case of flesh eating heroin in US

Join Chris on Twitter http://twitter.com/ChrisHayesTV
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/ChrisHayesTV