Yasser Lopez is an extremely lucky young man: Not only did the 3-foot fishing spear that pierced his 16-year-old skull miss every major blood vessel in his brain, but doctors expect him to make a full recovery.
It was just two weeks ago that Lopez was accidentally shot in the head with a Cressi Sub SL spear gun by a friend who was attempting to load it. The spear entered two inches above his right eye, stopping short of exiting through the backside of his head.
He was transported to Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital — the same hospital where face-eating victim Ronald Poppo is currently recovering — with about 30 inches of spear protruding from his forehead. Amazingly, Lopez was conscious and able to speak with EMTs and ER doctors.
"It's something you don't see everyday to have a patient arrive awake and speaking with a three-foot spear through his head," said trauma surgeon Dr. George Garcia.
A significant chunk of the spear was sawed off so Lopez could be X-rayed, and doctors could determine the least harmful way of extracting the rest of the steel rod. Ultimately, a high-speed drill and industrial-grade vice grips were used to cautiously pull the spear through his head, while taking care not to let the barbs deploy.
Though he still has a few months of rehabilitation ahead of him, neurosurgeon Dr. Ross Bullock said Lopez's CAT scan "looked surprisingly normal," adding that neurogeneration was on his side given his age. "Young people rehabilitate from injuries like this incredibly well," Bullock said. "So, we are very upbeat about his potential for recovery."