Teen Survives Traumatic Brain Injury

Medical Teamwork Saved Teen Who Survived Spear-inflicted Brain Injury

By now many know the story of 16-year old Yasser Lopez, who lived through a traumatic brain injury scenario and is alive to tell the tale.

According to CBS News, Lopez and a 15-year-old friend were together on June 7, when the friend loaded a spear gun that accidentally went off.

In the days after the incident, what has become clear is that it took a team of talented, ready medical personnel to save the boy.

The Miami Herald reported that Dr. George Garcia and Leo Harris, the physician’s assistant on Lopez’s surgery, who has been working in neurotrauma for 15 years, handled the important early steps to save Lopez’s, life while neurosurgeon Dr. Russ Bullock arrived at the operating room and began formulating their plan for removal.

Credit also goes to the paramedics, who got the patient to the hospital without disturbing the spear and making matters worse. The Miami-Dade Tactical Rescue Team provided the rebar cutters.

The surgical team then proceeded to drill a hole near the exit wound and remove the spear.

The three-foot long spear hit Lopez one inch above his eye with three feet sticking out from his forehead, and the other end through the back of his head.

Making the incident more bizarre, Lopez was awake during the incident and was able to communicate with doctors.

“It’s not every day that someone is brought in and speaking with three feet of a spear protruding,” Garcia, assistant professor of surgery at the Army Trauma Training Center, told CBS News.

The Cleveland Legal Examiner reports that an X-ray showed that the spear missed his right eye by about an inch and said doctors attribute three factors to his survival despite such a traumatic brain injury.

One, the spear didn’t puncture any of the brain’s major blood vessels. Second, it entered the right side of the brain, which has less blood vessels and brain functions and third, the spear did not pierce the midline,where many major blood vessels exist.

Lopez is recovering and can speak in short sentences. He has told doctors he’s not in pain, but is concerned that he cannot use his left side properly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that each year more than 1.7 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries.

(Photo courtesy of Jackson Memorial Hospital)