Fri, Sep 14, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Boy to fully recover after impaling head on skewer


An X-ray shows a meat skewer impaled in the skull of Xavier Cunningham after an accident on Saturday last week in Harrisonville, Missouri.

Photo: AP / Medical News Network

A 10-year-old boy was making a remarkable recovery on Wednesday after a meat skewer impaled his skull, but missed his brain, in what medics called a “one in a million” accident.

Had Xavier Cunningham landed slightly to either side after falling from a tree house ladder onto a metal spit beneath, he might have been severely injured or killed.

Instead, he is getting back on his feet in Kansas following surgery on Sunday to remove the skewer embedded from his cheekbone to the back of his neck.

“This thing had spared the eye, spared the brain, spared the spinal cord,” Koji Ebersole, director of Endovascular Neurosurgery at the University of Kansas Medical Center, told the Kansas City Star. “It was one in a million for it to pass 5 or 6 inches [13cm or 15cm] through the front of the face to the back and not have hit these things.”

Ebersole said the skewer plunged through a tiny space in his head surrounded by major blood vessels.

“I have not seen anything passed to that depth in a situation that was survivable, let alone one where we think the recovery will be near complete if not complete,” Ebersole said.

Xavier was playing near his home in Missouri on Saturday last week when he was attacked by a swarm of wasps and fell from a tree house, landing face-first on the skewer, which he and his friends had fixed upright into the ground, US media reported.

The skewer pierced his left cheek below the eye and went clean through his skull, without piercing the skin in the back of the neck.

Xavier roused himself and ran home, still skewered.

“I heard screaming,” the boy’s mother, Gabrielle Miller, told the Star. “He came in and he had this thing just sticking out.”

Remarkably, Xavier was able to walk into the emergency room of a local hospital. He was transferred twice to other hospitals, before a surgery team was assembled.

There was no serious bleeding, allowing doctors time to carefully prepare for the surgery the following morning, but it meant an excruciating wait on Saturday night.

“He would wake up and come to. He’d be like: ‘Am I alive?’” Miller said.

Ebersol said Xavier’s ability to stay calm and not pull at the skewer overnight gave them the time they needed to make sure they were fully prepared.

About 100 personnel took part in the operation, Ebersole said.

They slowly removed the skewer, taking care to avoid blood vessels that were within piercing distance.

“He proved to be remarkably brave,” Ebersole said.

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