Olivia Smith might be one of the luckiest 3-year-olds alive. A freak accident sent a pencil through her eye cavity and into her brain that doctors say if it were off by a millimeter in any direction, her outcome might have been drastically different, CBS local reported.
These scans show the location of the pencil through Olivia Smith's eye cavity into her brain. (Image: Boston Children's Hospital via CBS Local)
New Hampshire's Union Leader reported that the colored pencil became lodged in Smith's brain after she fell off a reclining chair a little more than three weeks ago. The child was flown to Boston Children's Hospital where 50 doctors worked on her case, according to the Union Leader, until she was released last Wednesday with the expectation that she will recover without any neurological damage.
"It made my eyes definitely open to everything else that goes on that you don't think about," Susie Smith, Olivia's mother, said according to the Union Leader. "You think about your day to day stuff. We're so lucky. She's lucky. And I'm lucky."
Watch this report regarding the toddler's unusual accident and recovery:
Here's more from the Union Leader from neurointerventionalist at Boston Children's, Dr. Darren Orbach:
He kept using the word, "remarkable," the same thing first responders called "miraculous," saying it was all thanks to the "mind-boggling trajectory" of the pathway the pencil took.
"If you asked me to sit down with a patient's scan and draw a line that would go from one end of the brain to the other, avoiding every major blood vessel and even avoiding critical areas of the brain. I would be hard-pressed to find a pathway that would cause so little injury."
When it came to removal of the pencil, doctors devised a way to take out the foreign object without inducing internal bleeding or further damage and also avoiding surgery. As they removed the pencil -- a process that took 40 minutes -- they inserted a catheter, which the Union Leader described as the size of angel-hair pasta, in the event something were to go wrong during the procedure. They pulled slowly and stopped frequently to check the status of various factors.
The day after the pencil's successful removal, Orbach recalled Smith eating ice cream and smiling. He told the Union Leader the plasticity of a child's young brain makes it easier for them to recover from such a traumatizing situation.
Read more details regarding Smith's case and the medical procedure to remove the pencil in the New Hampshire Union Leader here.