Getting shot in the head by anything is almost always a death sentence. But there are those rare cases where an individual receives what should’ve been a fatal head injury and somehow survives.
An X-ray image released in 2012 shows just how lucky one 16-year-old was to survive a fishing trip that went terribly wrong.
Yasser Lopez was at a Miami Lake fishing with a friend when the speargun they were using was discharged and lodged deep into Lopez’s head. Lopez was rushed to the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he arrived conscious with the spear protruding from his forehead.
“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, according to ABC. “If you do that, most of the time it’s uniformly fatal.”
Fortunately, they the boys didn’t try to pull the spear out themselves and surgeons were able to remove it from the boy’s head. Lopez survived his surgery after doctors used the X-ray image to plan out a three-hour operation to remove the spear.
“It’s a striking injury,” said Dr. George Garcia, an army trauma surgeon who treated Lopez said. “It’s something you don’t see every day, to have a patient awake and speaking with a three-foot spear through his head.”
The spear completely missed the eye and any major blood vessels inside the brain when it went in, missing the central brain – which controls heart rate and breathing – by an inch. The spear caused little damage to the brain and the only lingering side effects may result in difficulty controlling the left side of his body.
“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.”
“He’s making pretty much a miraculous recovery,” Bullock continued.