A Kansas teenager is recovering after falling on a knife that went through his face and was embedded in his skull.
Eli Gregg, 15, from Redfield, was playing outside with his friends on Thursday evening when he tripped and fell.
Instead of falling on grass, he fell onto a 10-inch knife that pierced his right cheek and was driven all the way into his brain.
In fact, the blade was so deep that doctors say if it had been driven any further, he would have died.
After a roughly four-hour operation, Eli is recovering ‘miraculously’, according to his medical team, with no long-term damage and is expected to be going home today.
Eli Gregg, 15, from Redfield, Kansas, tripped and fell onto a 10-inch knife on Thursday night. Pictured: Eli, in bed, with his mother, Jimmy Russell, in the hospital
The knife was resting on Eli’s carotid artery, which delivers blood to the brain. Doctors say that if the knife had entered his face any differently, Eli wouldn’t have survived. Pictured, left and right: Scans showing the knife in Eli’s brain
‘The kids were playing outside [and] I was inside cooking dinner,’ Eli’s mother, Jimmy Russell, said.
‘I kind of heard my son screaming. At first I thought it was normal, and then he came to the door. There was blood everywhere.’
Russell said that she thought a metal rod was sticking out of Eli’s skull, until she got closer and saw that it was a knife handle that protruding.
‘And my immediate thought was: “Call 911. This is bad”,’ she said.
An ambulance took Eli to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, which transferred him to the nearby University of Kansas Health System.
It was there that doctors discovered the knife was so deeply embedded in Eli’s skull that the tip was resting on his one of his carotid arteries, but hadn’t pierced it.
The carotid arteries are blood vessels that deliver blood to the neck, head and brain.
‘We ordered a number of scans and, when the scans resulted, it was clear this thing was big trouble,’ Dr Koji Ebersole, a neurosurgeon at the University of Kansas Health System, told DailyMail.com.
‘[The knife] was on the carotid artery in the brain with high risk that it would cut it. Anything different about it was – a little bit harder, a bit off to one side, and it was unsurvivable.’
Russell was told that there was a possibility that her son could have a stroke or lose sight in his right eye.
Doctors put catheters in Eli’s blood vessels and a couple of ‘balloons’ that can block blood flow through the vessels as needed. This was necessary so doctors could remove the knife without profuse bleeding Pictured, left and right: Eli before the accident
Jimmy Russell, Eli’s mother (pictured) , says he is back to laughing and cracking jokes, even making light of the traumatic incident.
Eli was taken into the hospital’s angiography suite, which creates detailed images of the arteries and the blood flow inside of them.
Neurosurgeons discovered the knife was not just next to, but indenting the carotid artery.
Dr Ebersole explained that the surgeons themselves might injure the artery by removing it.
‘So the plan we devised was to control the blood vessel from both directions,’ he said. ‘So blood coming up doesn’t get to the hole [created by the knife] and so blood coming down doesn’t get there.’
The team put in catheters in each vessel and a couple of ‘balloons’ that are delivered on a catheter that is as fine as a string of angel air spaghetti, according to Dr Ebersole.
The balloons inflate to the size of a pea and they can block blood flow through the vessels as needed.
When the knife was removed, all the balloons inflated to cut blood supply to that area. After the removal, they were deflated one by one, looking for a hole.
‘Incredibly, the indentation in the carotid artery restored itself, it went back to its normal shape,’ said Dr Ebersole.
Lastly, the surgical team performed a cosmetic repair to Eli’s cheek.
Dr Koji Ebersole (pictured), who treated Eli, said the teen was monitored over the weekend and there were no signs of delayed injury to the blood vessels
Doctors says it’s ‘totally miraculous’ that the knife penetrated to such a depth without creating any long-lasting damage. Pictured: Scans of Eli’s skull
Dr Ebersole said Eli was monitored over the weekend and there were no signs of delayed injury to the blood vessels. He is expected to be discharged today.
Russell, Eli’s mother, says he is back to laughing and cracking jokes, even making light of the traumatic incident.
‘He said he’s going to stay away from sharp objects,’ Russell said. ‘I’m just so happy to see my boy again.’
Dr Ebersole says it’s ‘totally miraculous’ that the knife penetrated to such a depth without creating any long-lasting damage.
He warns that anyone with similar injuries should immediately seek medical attention.
‘Don’t try to take it out yourself,’ said Dr Ebersole. ‘If it didn’t cause a life-changing injury on the way in, it could on the way out.’