Girl Stabbed Through Heart Survives

H O U S T O N, Oct. 29, 2000 -- A 6-year-old girl was recovering at a Houstonhospital Friday because firefighters and teachers did not try toremove the No. 2 pencil that pierced her heart in a freak fall,doctors said.

Surgeons at Ben Taub General Hospital removed the pencil afterthe Thursday afternoon accident at Youens Elementary School, in farsouthwest Houston.

Dr. Todd Maxson, a pediatric trauma surgeon, credited teachersand the Houston Fire Department with saving Destiny Lopez’s life,saying the girl likely would have bled to death had they removedthe pencil.

“The pencil is the proverbial finger in the dike,” Maxsonsaid. “This is an amazingly brave young lady.”

Destiny was turning in papers to her teacher at 2:20 p.m.Thursday when she tripped and fell on her pencil, which pierced theright ventricle of her heart.

The girl’s mother, working across the street in another school district building, rushed to the scene to helpteachers comfort the girl.

“I lost it,” the mother, Victoria Cereceres, said.

The pencil was buried 3 inches in the little girl’s chest.Doctors performed open-heart surgery, slightly raising the organ,removing the pencil and repairing the hole with three stitches.

She was in serious but stable condition Friday and was expectedto be discharged in one to two weeks.

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