A teenager was accidentally shot in the head with a 3-foot fishing spear. But that in itself isn't enough to make national news. But when the boy survives and there's an x-ray showing the spear lodged in the boy's head, that's enough to grab people's attention.
It appears the spear went in through the boy's forehead and came out through the back of his head, through the parietal lobe of his skull, WSVN in Miami reports.
Simply surviving such an accident is a miracle in itself, however, doctors are shocked that 16-year-old Yasser Lopez, of Miami-Dade County, Florida, will not only live, but he is also expected to a make a full recovery. Somehow, the spear missed every major blood vessel in his brain and missed the left side of his brain, which controls speech – albeit narrowly.
The stunning X-ray image shows a portion of the stainless steel spear coming out of the front of Lopez's forehead. Rescue workers reportedly cut off 18-inches of the spear so that doctors could conduct a full radiographic exam.
The incident occurred on a fishing trip with friends on June 7. One of the teenager's friends loaded a speargun and the gun accidentally discharged, sending the spear into Lopez's skull. It reportedly entered his head roughly two inches above the right eye.
He was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center in Miami where doctor's conducted a three-hour long life-saving operation.
“It's a striking injury, something you don't see every day - a patient arriving awake and speaking with a three-foot spear through his head," Dr. George Garcia said at a Monday press conference. “The first obstacle is to not be distracted by the obvious sensational aspect of the injury.”
Another doctor, Jackson Memorial Hospital neurosurgeon Dr. Ross Bullock added that as grisly as the X-ray appears, the boy is extremely lucky.
“The right side, instead of the left side of the brain, number one. Number two, it miraculously missed all of the main blood vessels in the brain," he explained. Had the spear pierced Lopez's left side of the brain, his speech would have likely been badly affected.
Bullock also commended emergency crew for avoiding what could have been a deadly mistake. "The most important thing is to resist that temptation to pull the thing out," he said.
Lopez has already been moved out of the Intensive Care Unit, through he is expected to remain in the hospital for roughly two to three months to rehabilitate. But once again, prospects are good for a full recovery.
“Young people rehabilitate from injuries like this incredibly well, so we are very upbeat about his potential for recovery," Bullock said.
WSVN has more on the operation:
Bullock and his trauma neurosurgery team determined the tip of the spear inside Lopez's head was actually a screw tip. "It was possible for us to figure out a strategy during the operation to be able to unscrew the tip of the spear, inside of having to get this whole spear dragged out through his brain," said Bullock.
"We quickly got our anesthesiology colleagues to sedate him and intubate him and put a breathing tube in and then chemically paralyzed him so he would remain still, the spear wouldn't move," said Garcia.
After only one surgery to take out the spear in his forehead, Lopez' brain only has a small bit of swelling. "Almost a normal looking CT scan," said Bullock.
According to the doctors, Lopez has no recollection of the day he was shot. "He woke up-- the story, the version we got was that he woke up with a spear in his head, " said Garcia. "He probably won't ever regain those memories."