'Miracle' Missouri boy survives being impaled through face by meat skewer after fall

The little boy is expected to make a near full recovery

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 12 September 2018 22:02
Comments
This X-ray provided by the Medical News Network shows a meat skewer impaled in the skull of Xavier Cunningham after an accident at his home Saturday, 8 September 2018, in Harrisonville, Mo.
This X-ray provided by the Medical News Network shows a meat skewer impaled in the skull of Xavier Cunningham after an accident at his home Saturday, 8 September 2018, in Harrisonville, Mo.

Xavier Cunningham survived being attacked by insects, falling from a tree and landing head-first on a meat skewer that penetrated his skull — all in the same day.

The 10-year-old Missouri resident was playing in his tree-house on Saturday afternoon when a swarm of yellow jacket wasps caused him to fall, landing on the inconveniently placed skewer outside of his home. The bar had effectively went through his entire head, with several inches still sticking out of his face, when his mother found him screaming.

"I’m dying, mom," the little boy reportedly said on his way to the hospital.

Gabrielle Miller, the boy's mother, told the newspaper she "heard screaming, and I went running down the stairs".

“He came in and he had this thing just sticking out," she continued.

However, doctors described the injury as a miracle, saying the skewer didn't do any damage his eye, spinal cord, brain or any major blood vessels.

In this Monday, 10 September 2018 photo provided by Shannon Miller, his son Xavier Cunningham, of Harrisonville, Mo., gives a thumbs up while recovering at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., after surgery to remove a meat skewer that penetrated his skull from his face to the back of his head.

A photo of the 10-year-old shows him sitting up in his hospital bed with a grin and a thumbs-up, as doctors expect a nearly complete recovery from the traumatic injury.

"You couldn’t draw it up any better,” Koji Ebersole, endovascular neurosurgery director at the University of Kansas Hospital, told the Kansas City Star. "It was one in a million for it to pass five or six inches through the front of the face to the back and not have hit these things.”

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"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,” the doctor continued, describing the event as "miraculous".

The doctor described the 10-year-old as “remarkably resilient and brave” after deciding to wait overnight for a medical team to gather Sunday morning, after scans showed there wasn’t any active bleeding making surgery an urgent requirement.

“It required Xavier being on board with that plan,” he 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.”

Doctors performed surgery to remove the skewer from the boy’s skull at a perfectly straight angle, working carefully to ensure the square, sharp edges didn't create potentially severe damage to the surrounding area.

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