MIAMI - A 16-year-old boy who was shot in the head with a spear while fishing remained in serious condition Monday, as doctors discuss his case and show X-rays of the spear in his head.
Doctors of Jackson Memorial Hospital spoke Monday about the case of Yasser Lopez, 16.
Officials said Lopez was spearfishing with friends June 7. One of his friends was loading a speargun and it accidentally went off, hitting Lopez in the head with a spear, according to Jackson officials.
With about 3 feet of the spear protruding from his head, Lopez was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center.
"It is a striking injury," said trauma surgeon Dr. George Garcia. "It is not something you see every day to have a patient arrive awake and speaking with a 3-foot spear through his head."
Doctors said Lopez was alert until they sedated him. The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue tactical team used a rebar cutter to shorten the spear so doctors could scan Lopez's head from every angle.
The X-ray shows that the spear entered into the front of the boy's head and poked out the back.
Doctors performed a three-hour surgery to remove the spear from Lopez's head.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Ross Bullock said that as bad as it looked, it could have been much worse.
"The right side, instead of the left side of the brain, No. 1. No 2, it miraculously missed all of the main blood vessels in the brain," Bullock said.
A scan of Lopez's brain 11 days later showed some swelling but indicated that his brain is on the mend, doctors said.
The doctors said this was the first time they saw a spear in someone's head; they deal with bullet wounds and nail gun injuries more often. Their advice for anyone with this type of an injury is not to try to pull out the object.
Doctors credited paramedics with keeping the boy calm and the spear intact so he had the best chance to survive.
Lopez is now out of bed and speaking but has amnesia, hospital officials said.
"Young people rehabilitate from injuries like this incredibly well, so we are very upbeat about his potential for recovery," Bullock said.
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