10-Year-Old Survives Impaling Himself Face-First on Skewer

September 12, 2018 Updated: September 12, 2018

A 10-year-old boy who impaled himself after falling face-first onto a 12-inch meat skewer survived, thanks to “one in a million” luck.

Xavier Cunningham was playing in a tree house with friends on Sept. 8, when yellow jacket wasps bombarded them, causing him to fall 4 feet off the ladder, landing on a metal meat skewer sticking straight up.

But despite the spike penetrating 5-6 inches, surgeons were able to remove it safely with no major damage to any vital tissues.

The boy’s mother, Gabrielle Miller, said she first knew something was wrong when she heard screaming outside their home in Harrisonville, Missouri.

She ran down the stairs.

“He came in and he had this thing just sticking out,” she told the Kansas City Star.

His father, Shannon Miller, told Fox that the wasps had terrified him.

An X-ray shows the tip of the metal skewer
An X-ray shows the tip of the metal meat skewer that penetrated the head of Xavier Cunningham, on Sept. 8, 2018. (Screenshot/Fox)

“He was more upset about the yellow jackets than he was about the metal piece sticking out of his face,”

But as they rushed to the hospital, Xavier became more worried, repeatedly telling his mother that he was dying.

He wasn’t.

‘It missed everything’

Despite the skewer penetrating all the way to the back of his head, it hadn’t hit anything vital.

“It missed his brain. It missed his brain stem. It missed the nerves, everything that’s valuable in your head. It missed everything,” his father said.

Xavier was transferred to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, before then being moved on again to the University of Kansas hospital in Kansas City, Kansas.

Koji Ebersole, director of Endovascular Neurosurgery at The University of Kansas Health System said it was “miraculous” that no more damage had been done.

“This thing had spared the eye, spared the brain, spared the spinal cord,” Ebersole told Kansas City.

“You couldn’t draw it up any better,” Ebersole said. “It was one in a million for it to pass 5 or 6 inches through the front of the face to the back and not have hit these things.

Xavier Cunningham recovering in hospital
Xavier Cunningham recovering in a hospital bed in Kansas, Sept. 10, 2018. (Screenshot/Fox)

“I have not seen anything passed to that depth in a situation that was survivable, let alone one where we think the recovery will be near complete if not complete.”

Playing X-Box in His Hospital Bed

Doctors were still concerned that the blade could have hit blood vessels. But when scans showed there was no active bleeding, they decided it best to wait until Sunday morning before attempting to remove the skewer, when more staff were on hand.

“It required Xavier being on board with that plan,” Ebersole said. “Because if he was going to get anxious or nervous and start moving around, he could move the device and cause significant injury that he had not yet incurred.”

Meanwhile, his waiting family turned to their faith and to prayer.

X-ray of metal skewer through head
An X-ray shows the metal meat skewer penetrating the head of Xavier Cunningham, Sept. 8, 2018. (Screenshot/Fox)

“I said, ‘Lord I don’t care. I know you have a plan,'” Miller said.

The operation lasted hours but was a success, and by the following day Xavier was playing X-Box in his hospital bed and joking with his family, reported Fox.

He could make a full recovery.

For Miller, Xavier’s brush with death has only strengthened his belief.

“Only God could have directed things to happen in a way that would save him like this,” he said. “It really was a miracle.”

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