Missouri boy survives head-first fall on to meat skewer

‘Miraculous’: 10-year-old recovering in US after skewer misses vital structures in skull

This image courtesy of Medical News Network, shows an X-Ray of Xavier Cunningham (10) after a meat skewer impaled his skull on September 8th, 2018, but missed his brain, in what medics called a “one in a million” accident. Photograph: Medical News Network/AFP/Getty

This image courtesy of Medical News Network, shows an X-Ray of Xavier Cunningham (10) after a meat skewer impaled his skull on September 8th, 2018, but missed his brain, in what medics called a “one in a million” accident. Photograph: Medical News Network/AFP/Getty

 

A 10-year-old Missouri 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 his eye, brain, spinal cord and major blood vessels, the Kansas City Star reports.

Cunningham’s harrowing experience began Saturday afternoon when wasps attacked him in a tree house at his home in Harrisonville, 56km south of Kansas City. He fell to the ground and his mother, Gabrielle Miller, ran down the stairs when she heard screaming. His skull was pierced from front-to-back with half a foot of skewer still sticking out of his face.

Xavier Cunningham recovering at a hospital after surgery in Kansas City, Missouri. Photograph: Shannon Miller/AFP/Getty Images
Xavier Cunningham recovering at a hospital after surgery in Kansas City, Missouri. Photograph: Shannon Miller/AFP/Getty Images
The tree house from which Xavier Cunningham fell in Kansas City. Photograph: Shannon Miller/AFP/Getty Images
The tree house from which Xavier Cunningham fell in Kansas City. Photograph: Shannon Miller/AFP/Getty Images

Miller tried to reassure her son, who told her: “I’m dying, Mom” as they rushed to the hospital. He was eventually 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 five or six inches 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 personnel in place Sunday morning for a removal surgery, 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 think Cunningham 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,” he said. – Associated Press/Guardian