Florida Teen Yasser Lopez Survives Harpoon Through Head

By Amir Khan on June 20, 2012 9:44 AM EDT

Harpoon
A Florida teenager, 16-year-old Yasser Lopez, is recovering from a freak accident that left him with a 3-foot harpoon sticking out of his head, (Photo: Jackson Memorial Hospital)

A Florida teenager, 16-year-old Yasser Lopez, is recovering from a freak accident that left him with a 3-foot harpoon sticking out of his head, his doctors said on Monday. Lopez and his friend were playing with a speargun when it went off, sending the metal spear into his head and narrowly missing his eye.

"You could feel the skin and the spear penetrated through the back of his skull," Dr. George Garcia, an assistant professor of surgery at the Army Trauma Training Center and one of the boy's doctors, told CBS.

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Lopez was awake and conscious during the whole ordeal, and went into the emergency room talking with doctors, who said it was difficult to keep from getting distracted with the spear sticking out of his head.

"It's not every day that someone is brought in and speaking with three feet of a spear protruding," Garcia said.

Doctors said Lopez survived because the spear missed all of his major blood vessels. They credited paramedics with keeping his head stead so the spear did not move around in his brain. In addition, it hit his right side, which is not as crucial to brain function, doctors said.

"The amazing thing is that he has been able to speak right now with short sentences and to make his needs felt," Ross Bullock, a neurosurgeon and professor of neurological surgery at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital, told CBS News. "His words are amazingly easy to understand. He can for example say that he does not have pain, but he is worried about the fact that he can't use his left side properly."

Lopez will be in the hospital for several months, but will most likely make a full recovery.

"He can continue to get better and better, and where he is right now is really a modern miracle," Dr. Anders Cohen, chief of neurosurgery and spine surgery at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, told CBS News. "He had a lot of good factors...a perfect storm - he got very lucky."

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