World

US boy, 10, recovering after falling face-first onto skewer

KANSAS CITY: A 10-year-old American 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 fractions of an inch to either side after falling onto the sharp metal spit, he may have been killed.

Instead, he is getting back on his feet in the state of Kansas after surgery on Sept 9 to remove the 30cm-long skewer.

"This thing had spared the eye, spared the brain, spared the spinal cord," neurosurgeon Koji Ebersole, head of the local university health authority, told the Kansas City Star.

"It was one in a million for it to pass (13cm to 15cm) through the front of the face to the back and not have hit these things."

Dr 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," he said.

Xavier's ordeal began on Sept 8 afternoon, when he was playing near his home in the nearby state of Missouri.

He was attacked by 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.

"I heard screaming," the boy's mother Gabrielle Miller told the Star. "He came in and he had this thing sticking out."

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

There was no serious bleeding, giving doctors time to prepare for the surgery scheduled for the following morning. But it meant an excruciating wait.

"He would wake up and come to. He'd be like, 'Am I alive?'" Ms Miller said.

Around 100 medical personnel took part in the operation, Dr Ebersole said. - AFP

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