A 10-year-old boy in Missouri is recovering after he was attacked by wasps and fell from a tree house face-first on to a meat skewer.
The thin spike that went through Xavier Cunningham’s head “miraculously” missed his eyes, brain, spinal cord and major blood vessels.
He fell down from a tree house when the freak accident occurred on Saturday.
Kansas University Hospital told local media he is expected to recover fully, although his voice may be affected.
A team of Kansas University doctors successfully removed the square rod – which made for a trickier surgery than a rounded skewer due to the sharp edges – over several hours.
Xavier was playing in a tree house at his home in Harrisonville, Missouri, when yellow jacket wasps began stinging him.
He fell from the tree house and landed directly on a foot-long (30cm) metal meat skewer. The skewer penetrated around six inches into the boys skull.
Xavier’s mother Gabrielle Miller told Kansas City Star that she saw her son walk into the house, screaming, with the rod “just sticking out” of his head.
“I’m dying Mom, I can feel it,” Mrs Miller recalled him telling her on the way to hospital.
Xavier was taken to local hospital, transferred to hospital in Kansas City and again transferred to the University of Kansas hospital where he would eventually undergo surgery.
His injury had no active bleeding and had avoided his eyes, brainstem, spinal cord and blood vessels, which enabled doctors to call in expert surgeons before attempting the removal surgery on Sunday morning.
Koji Ebersole, director of endovascular neurosurgery at the University of Kansas Health System, told the Star: “You couldn’t draw it up any better. 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.”
He said the biggest concern while removing the rod was the blood vessels in the boy’s neck.
Dr Ebersole called the boy’s recovery “miraculous”.
“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,” he told the Star.