A teenager in Florida will likely recover from a severe brain injury, caused by being impaled by a 3-foot-long spear, while spear fishing.
On June 8, Yasser Lopez, age 16, was fishing with a friend near Miami. When the friend attempted to load the spear gun, he accidentally shot Lopez. The spear penetrated his skull above the right eye, went through his brain, and exited the back of his head.
Lopez survived the brain injury and underwent a three-hour-long surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital, from which he will enter an intensive rehabilitation program.
“It is a miracle that this boy survived such an awful injury,” said Robert Joyce, a brain injury attorney with the Joyce & Reyes Law Firm. “Brain injuries can have devastating long-term effects.”
Doctors said that when Lopez came into the hospital, he was conscious and was able to follow commands, therefore providing a neurological assessment to the attending physicians. Many patients with a severe brain injury tend to be comatose or otherwise unresponsive.
Lopez was also fortunate in the location of his injury. His outlook is more promising because the brain’s right side was affected. The left side of the brain controls vital functions such as speech and cognition.
In addition, the spear did not affect the brain’s midline, which is home to many vital structures and blood vessels. If the spear had cut a major blood vessel, then Lopez could have suffered a stroke or severe bleeding.
Doctors say that the margin of error could be measured in millimeters, and that Lopez is “the lucky of the unlucky.” The fact that Lopez is young and healthy increases the odds that he will recover well from the brain injury. He may have a 70 to 90 percent chance of a good recovery.