Surgeons save builder who had six nails in his head

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The Independent Online

There seemed to be little hope for Isidro Mejia. Three nails were lodged deep in his brain. Another had split his skull. Two others were part-embedded. But just two weeks after stumbling and falling on a construction-site colleague with a nail-gun, he is alive.

There seemed to be little hope for Isidro Mejia. Three nails were lodged deep in his brain. Another had split his skull. Two others were part-embedded. But just two weeks after stumbling and falling on a construction-site colleague with a nail-gun, he is alive.

Yesterday, Mr Mejia was able to speak slowly in Spanish. Doctors said he lost most of his English-speaking skills when nails smashed the frontal lobe of his brain. Over several days of operations, doctors removed the nails, using X-rays as maps and a camera scope as a guide. Even for a surgery unit used to extracting bullets and chunks of car metal it was an incredible feat.

Mr Mejia is now out of intensive care in a Los Angeles hospital and doctors expect him to make a full recovery. "I thought I was going to die," Mr Mejia said. "Now, I just hope to continue my life with my family." Mr Mejia and his wife Juana, have four children.

Mejia, 39, was helping build a house last month when he fell, a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy, Mark Newlands, said. The men tried to grab each to keep their balance, but both tumbled, the nail-gun rapid-firing. "They're extremely powerful," the deputy said. "The guy holding the gun was grabbing to keep from falling, and just gripped tighter on the trigger."

Mr Mejia stopped breathing in the emergency room. He was resuscitated him, but remained comatose. A team led by a neurosurgeon, Rafael Quinonez, removed the six nails over five days. "Four of them were embedded in his skull," a hospital spokesman said. "Another was in his spinal column.

"The neurosurgeon could not believe he was still alive. With injuries like that, he should be dead. He is out of intensive care and he is expected to make a full recovery."

Reports say police are investigating, but they believe it was a bizarre accident. With Dr Quinonez beside him, Mr Mejia said: "I feel so lucky. I know I am lucky because I am alive."

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