A 10-year-old boy from Missouri narrowly escaped an almost certain death over the weekend when he fell from the face of his tree house first on a metal spike, which pierced his head from front to back.
Xavier Cunningham and his friends were playing at the tree house in Harrisonville on Saturday when a swarm of wasps known as Yellowjackets attacked the children.
The 10-year-old boy was trying to escape the biting insects by going down a four-foot ladder, but he lost his footing and was impaled on the metal spit bar, which he and his friends had found nearby and planted on the ground. , informed KCTV.
One in a million: Xavier Cunningham, 10, is photographed shortly after impaling his face on a 12-inch metal meat skewer in Missouri on Saturday
Medical miracle: the tip passed through the child's skull from front to back, but it released his brain and all the major arteries
Close call: the bar is displayed after being removed by doctors at the University of Kansas Health System on Sunday
The rod entered the boy's left cheek and the impact of the fall pierced his skull.
But fortunately for the child and his family, the skewer somehow completely forgot the brain, the brainstem, all the major arteries and nerves.
"He could have bled to death in that field, covered in yellow jackets," Shannon Miller told Fox 4 KC of his son.
Xavier's mother, Gabrielle Miller, had tears in her eyes as the ambulance driving to the local hospital told her: "I'm dying, mom."
"It was one in a million, the trajectory of that thing … If this had taken a different trajectory, this thing would not have been survivable.
Dr. Koji Ebersole, KU Health System
After being evaluated at the local hospital and transferred to Mercy Children's Hospital, Xavier was finally taken to the Health System Hospital of the University of Kansas, where Dr. Koji Ebersole, director of endovascular neurosurgery, was work to assess the damage.
In a telephone interview with Dailymail.com on Tuesday, Dr. Ebersole said that when he first saw Zavier's X-rays showing the metal rod piercing his brain, he did not believe the patient was alive.
Xavier was playing in the house of this tree when he and his friends were attacked by a swarm of wasps known as yellow jackets.
Xavier appears in the hospital after being intubated in preparation for the extraction
The rod hits your jugular vein, but the pressure stops the bleeding
"I have never seen anything so deep in the face and skull and I have the person live to tell it," said Ebersole, who has practiced medicine for almost 20 years.
In the course of several hours, Ebersole and his team of doctors could determine that the metal bar did not reach the carotid and vertebral arteries by a millimeter, but it did perforate the jugular vein.
"But it was a problem that we were able to solve," he said of the injury. & # 39; The device [rod] in itself it was causing pressure that was enough to stop any bleeding. "
For Ebersole and the other doctors, the most important thing was to protect Xavier's airways.
"I think it's definitely appropriate to say that there is no response to textbooks," said the surgeon. "We had to improvise and elaborate plan A, plan B, plan C."
Due to the rod protruding from his face, he could not open his mouth enough to insert a breathing tube, and there was a concern that performing a tracheotomy could alter speech and cause bleeding.
In the end, the medical team decided to keep Xavier under observation during the night and, the next morning, they were able to secure his airway by placing a tube in his nose.
"He was incredibly brave, incredibly tough," Dr. Ebersole said of his 10-year-old patient. & # 39; He was talking and aware &.
Once that was done, Ebersole and his colleagues took Xavier to the hospital's multimillion-dollar neuro-engiography suite and connected him to a state-of-the-art imaging machine to monitor his brain and key arteries in preparation for extraction.
The doctors were worried that once the rod was removed from Xavier's skull, massive hemorrhaging would occur upon leaving, so they had to make sure it came out directly.
The structure of the meat skewer also posed some problems: on one end, it had four metal spokes, and on the other, it had a barbed structure.
Ideas were thrown to cut the barb or push the rod in the opposite direction.
They worried that once the skewer was removed, it would cause bleeding when leaving.
"The device went so far through the tissue, we did not know how stuck it would be," Ebersole said.
The teams prepared sophisticated tools to take out the skewer, but at the end of the day, all that was needed was a pair of strong hands, courtesy of the resident head of Ebersole.
The device had to be removed slowly to avoid damaging the patient's main arteries or spinal cord, which could have paralyzed it.
After more than six hours of planning and preparation involving about 100 hospital staff members, the extraction itself took only 15 minutes, and concluded with a small band-aid placed on Xavier's face to close the wound.
"It was one in a million, the trajectory of that thing," Ebersole marveled. & # 39; If this had taken a different trajectory, this thing would not have been survivable. It would have caused a hemorrhage so deep that it would have blocked its air waves.
When asked about Xavier's parents, Dr. Ebersole said they are "eternally grateful."
"They also understand the magnitude of the circumstances that come together," he continued.
Dr. Ebersole said that Xavier will be released to his home in the coming days. He predicted that the 10-year-old boy, who loves to play football and video games, will have pains and aches in the firs, and his voice could be hoarse, but he is expected to recover completely.