Eli Gregg, 15, recovers in the hospital bed in Kansas City as his mother Jimmy Russell watches.
Eli Gregg, 15, recovers in the hospital bed in Kansas City as his mother Jimmy Russell watches.

A 15-year-old Kansas boy got a large knife to the face, and doctors say he's extremely lucky.

Jimmy Russell said her son, Eli Gregg, was playing last Friday NZT outside of their home in Redfield, about 145km south of Kansas City, when she heard him scream.

She found him with a 25cm knife jutting from just below his eye and called emergency services.

"It looked pretty grim, it was scary," Russell said in a video released by the University of Kansas Health System, where he was treated.

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The knife was embedded in his skull and extended to just under his brain.

The blade's tip, meanwhile, was pushing against his carotid artery, which supplies the brain with blood.

"It could not have had a pound more force on it and him survive that event," said Dr Koji Ebersole, who oversaw the extraction. "I don't think he would have survived it."

A team of surgeons put together an intricate plan to remove the blade.

They were prepared for possible bleeding into the brain, but the operation went without a hitch and the artery remained intact.

Within 24 hours of the surgery, Eli was able to talk and make light of the situation. He was due to be discharged today.

"He says he is going to stay away from sharp objects," Russell said. "That is very understandable."

She said Eli is doing great and should make a full recovery.

"It is almost a miracle," Russell said. "It is really, really amazing."

The boy is fortunate he ended up in Ebersole's hands, as it was Ebersole who removed a meat skewer from the skull of a 10-year-old Missouri boy last year in an accident that provided equally shocking X-rays.

That boy was attacked by yellow jackets in a tree house in Harrisonville, about 56km south of Kansas City, and fell onto the skewer.

- AP

This 3D computer graphic model made from X-Ray imagery shows how a tip of the knife stopped right on and was pressed against the carotid artery.
This 3D computer graphic model made from X-Ray imagery shows how a tip of the knife stopped right on and was pressed against the carotid artery.