A 10-year-old US boy is recovering after he was attacked by insects and tumbled from a tree, landing on a meat skewer that penetrated his skull from his face to the back of his head.
But miraculously, that’s where Xavier Cunningham’s bad luck ended. The skewer had completely missed Xavier’s eye, brain, spinal cord and major blood vessels, The Kansas City Star in Missouri reports.
Xavier’s harrowing experience began on Saturday afternoon when yellow jacket wasps attacked him in a tree house at his home in Harrisonville, about 56 kilometres south of Kansas City. He fell to the ground and his mother, Gabrielle Miller, ran down the stairs when she heard screaming. Xavier’s skull was pierced from front to back, with 15 centimetres of skewer still sticking out of his face.
Ms Miller tried to reassure her son, who told her “I’m dying, mom” as they rushed to the hospital. He eventually was transferred to the University of Kansas Hospital, where endovascular neurosurgery director Koji Ebersole evaluated the wound.
“You couldn’t draw it up any better,” Dr Ebersole said. “It was one in a million for it to pass 5 or 6 inches (13-15 centimetres) through the front of the face to the back and not have hit these things.”
There was no active bleeding, allowing the hospital time to get staff in place for Xavier to have surgery on Sunday morning – which was complicated by the fact that the skewer wasn’t round. Because it was square, with sharp edges, it would have to come out perfectly straight. Twisting it could cause additional severe injury.
“Miraculous” would be an appropriate word to describe what happened, Dr Ebersole said.
Doctors now think Xavier could recover completely.
“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,” Dr Ebersole said.