A Brazilian construction worker makes a remarkable recovery after a falling iron bar impales his head, passing through his brain.
Eduardo Leite, 24, was working on a building site in Rio on Wednesday when the sharp 6ft piece of metal fell from five storeys above.
It went through his hard hat, passed through the back of his skull and a major part of his brain, and ended up poking out between his eyes.
Remarkably, Mr Leite did not lose consciousness and was able to describe the circumstances of the accident to doctors.
Surgeons at Rio’s Miguel Couto Hospital removed the bar after a delicate five-hour operation, and by the following day Mr Eite was already conscious, eating normally, and said he felt little pain.
The impressive thing is that he arrived at the hospital awake and told me what had happened to him. Dr Luiz Essinger
Dr Luiz Essinger said: “The impressive thing is that he arrived at the hospital awake and told me what had happened to him.
“He told me he was kneeling down handling tools on the construction site where he worked when a metal bar fell from the fifth floor. He still hasn’t told me about the moment of the impact.
“This metal bar entered the skull through the posterior and lateral part of the brain, perforated the bone, transfixed the entire brain, we call it the core, and exited through the anterior part in between the two eyes.”
His wife, Lilian Regina da Silva Costa, said she couldn’t believe her husband had survived after seeing a picture taken in the ambulance by the surgeon on his mobile phone which showed her husband awake with the bar through his head.
This metal bar entered the skull through the posterior and lateral part of the brain, perforated the bone, transfixed the entire brain and exited through the anterior part in between the two eyes. Dr Luiz Essinger
She said: “He was lying down with the bar pointing upwards and he was holding the metal with his face covered in blood, and his look was as if nothing had happened.
“When he arrived he told the doctors he wasn’t feeling anything, no pain, nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. It’s unbelievable.”
Surgeons are cautiously optimistic about Mr Leite’s chances of making a good recovery. Dr Essinger said: “He responded very well to the surgery and so far, he is doing very well, he’s lucid, in good spirits, he ate and he moves is arms and legs.
“But now, the risk moving forward over the next few days will be in relation to any infection.”
Neurologists told Channel 4 News Mr Leite’s survival was highly unusual but not quite a miracle.
The metal bar narrowly missed the “eloquent” parts of the brain, which control speech and motor function. Brain injury victims have been known to recover from major trauma to the brain as long as these key regions are undamaged.
There have been a few other examples of people surviving extreme head injuries in similar circumstances.
One famous case was that of Phineas Gage, an American construction foreman who accidentally detonated an explosive charge while laying a railroad in 1848, blowing a 3ft 7in iron rod straight through his head.
Gage was able to walk and talk within minutes, although he suffered long-term side-effects including major changes to his personality.