The first images of the Florida teen who survived a spear shot into his head show the key factors that likely saved the teen’s life, his doctors said.
Yasser Lopez, 16, was fishing with a friend at a Miami lake nearly two weeks ago when the spear gun they were using accidentally deployed and hit Lopez in the head, according to Miami-Dade police.
Click HERE to see the X-rays of the spear in Lopez’s head.
Lopez was rushed by paramedics to the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Hospital where he arrived conscious but with 3 feet of the spear protruding from his forehead.
“The tip, it didn’t penetrate the skin but you could feel underneath the skin on the back of his head so we knew that it went all the way through,” said Dr. George Garcia, an assistant professor of surgery at the Army Trauma Training Center who treated Lopez.
Doctors credited the paramedics who treated Lopez with saving his life by not immediately pulling the spear out of the teen’s head.
“The temptation if you don’t have experience with these things is, ‘Oh well, pull it out,’” said Dr. Ross Bullock, a neurosurgeon at Jackson Memorial. “If you do that, most of the time it’s uniformly fatal.”
Paramedics used a re-bar tool and pliers to stabilize the spear and a hydraulic cutter to clip the steel spear so the teen’s head could fit inside a CT scanner.
The X-rays of Lopez’s head showed the spear went all the way through his head at an angle and exited the other side but just missed his eye and dodged all major blood vessels in Lopez’s brain. It also traveled through the right hemisphere of his brain, less than one inch above the central brain that controls the senses, heart rate and breathing.
“All of these are structures that, if this had happened to affect those, he would not have been likely to have survived to even get to the hospital,” Bullock said. “If you had to have a spear go through there [the head], then this spear chose the right path to go with the least damage.”
Doctors used the X-rays to plan the complex three-hour surgery in which they removed the spear from Lopez’s head.
Lopez was moved out of the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit Monday. Doctors say he is now sitting up and speaking a few words and that brain scans since his surgery show the spear caused relatively little damage to his brain.
The teen may have some lingering trouble with movement on the left side of his body, doctors say, but he is expected to make an otherwise full recovery.
“He’s making pretty much a miraculous recovery,” Bullock said.