Doctors Save Toddler After Pencil Pierces Skull

Credit: Boston Children''s Hospital

A New Hampshire toddler is on the mend after she impaled herself with an orange colored pencil, which lodged between her eye and the back of her skull two weeks ago.

Susie Smith was with her 20-month old daughter, Olivia, who was coloring with a set of new colored pencils, sitting on a chair, when the toddler fell off.

At first, Smith didn't realize her daughter was injured, she told Good Morning America.

"I remember my 3-year-old saying, 'The pencil is in her head,'" Smith told WMUR, the ABC News Affiliate in New Hampshire. "And I said, 'No, it's not.'"

She didn't notice the orange colored pencil sticking out of her daughter's eye. That's because five and a half inches of the pencil were lodged inside her head, and only two inches of it were sticking out.

"I thought she was dying in my arms," Smith, who is pregnant with her third child, told Good Morning America.

Smith called 9-1-1, and Fire Chief Dan McDonald arrived to see the pencil sticking out at a 45 degree angle, but didn't know how long it was.

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"Been in business 33 years," McDonald said. "Haven't seen anything like this."

Olivia traveled via helicopter to Children's Hospital in Boston, where neurosurgeons removed the pencil. It somehow missed the optic nerve and major arteries, but Olivia suffered three strokes during the ordeal.

"The pencil entered over the right eye and literally crossed the brain to the back next to the left ear," said Olivia's surgeon, Dr. Darren Orbach. He initially worried the pencil was holding an injury together, but he was able to get it out safely with a team of about 50 doctors.

Although the toddler had difficulty moving her right side because of the strokes, Smith said she kept placing things in her daughter's right hand. It was on an attempt to get Olivia to drink from a sippy cup that she was finally successful.

"All of a sudden, she moved her right hand all the way up - shaking, shaking, just like that - and she started drinking," Smith told WMUR.

Olivia is expected to make a full recovery.

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