Yasser Lopez: Doctors remove 3-foot spear from teen’s skull

Lopez's X-ray.

With the help of some industrial cutters and pliers, doctors in Miami have successfully removed a three-foot spear that penetrated a teenager’s skull during a fishing accident. Yasser Lopez, 16, is now recovering from the successful operation, but is still listed in serious condition.

As the last day of school approached, Yasser Lopez went spearfishing with friends. One of his friends was loading a speargun and the spear accidentally deployed hitting him in the head, 5 cm above his right eye. The projectile passed through the right side of his brain and came out the back of his skull.

A cutter for rebar steel bars and some locking pliers supplied by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, were used to remove 18 inches of the protruding spear from Yasser’s forehead so that doctors could carry out a complete x-ray.

Doctors say that the projectile missed the brain’s vital structures (missing the parts responsible for speech) and did not rupture any major blood vessels.

“It’s a miracle the spear missed all the main blood vessels of the brain,” said Dr. Ross Bullock, a neurosurgeon at the University of Miami- Jackson Memorial Hospital.   

Doctors told reporters this week they found no inspiration from the story of Excalibur in removing the spear.

“If you yield to the temptation of doing the King Arthur trick and just pull the thing out, you can cause a lot of damage,” Bullock said. “You have to take precautions.”

Yasser’s rehabilitation is expected to take two to three months. Three hours was the approximate time of Yasser’s successful surgery. Doctors say that the patient has no recollection of the accident happening.


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