It's one of the most nightmarish possibilities for anyone. Over the weekend, a 10-year-old boy from Missouri fell from a tree after being attacked by wasps only to land on a meat skewer sticking out from the ground.
The metal rod, oddly enough, was placed in the ground upright by the boy Xavier Cunningham and his friends so that no one would step on it.
Cunningham, however, became the victim of something far worse than stepping on the barbecue skewer.
“I heard screaming, and I went running down the stairs,” Cunningham’s mother, Gabrielle Miller, told the Kansas City Star. “He came in and he had this thing just sticking out.”
The weight of the situation hit young Gabrielle as his parents rushed him to the hospital. He told his mother "I'm dying Mom."
Fortunately for the Cunningham family, that was not the case. Doctors are calling Xavier's success through this entire horrific event a miracle.
A procedure with high risk
When Cunningham arrived at his local hospital, doctors immediately forwarded him on to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. From there, he was sent to the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas.
Director of Endovascular Neurosurgery Koji Ebersole was the doctor responsible for handling such a delicate procedure. He said the Children's Mercy Hospital contacted him and warned him about the gravity of the situation and the high-risk nature of the procedure.
"The device was sticking out half a foot from his face and substantially lodged in the tissues," he was told. Ebersole said he was concerned by just how much the rod had pierced in Xavier's body.
"This thing had spared the eye, spared the brain, spared the spinal cord," Ebersole said. "But the major concern was the blood vessels in the neck."
The rod had already spent hours in Xavier's body by the time he arrived at the University of Kansas hospital. The family and previous medical professionals had been wise not to attempt to remove the rod. When the Cunninghams met with Ebersole, there was no active bleeding. The rod, though in a precarious location, had also prevented the young boy from sustaining even more damage.
Ebersole suggested that the family wait until Sunday morning to attempt a procedure. The doctor told local media this was so the necessary personnel would be present before attempting to remove the skewer.
“It required Xavier being on board with that plan,” Ebersole said. “Because if he was going to get anxious or nervous and start moving around, he could move the device and cause significant injury that he had not yet incurred.”
Xavier bravely made the decision to wait it out.
Ebersole said a key factor to Xavier's survival was the luck that the skewer managed to miss major blood vessels.
"You couldn’t draw it up any better," Ebersole said. "It was one in a million for it to pass 5 or 6 inches through the front of the face to the back and not have hit these things."
Although the shape of the skewer itself caused problems for the medical team, the doctors pulled it out. They think Xavier will have a full physical recovery.
"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," Ebersole said.