The nineteenth century had Phineas Gage, the hapless railway worker who survived (supposedly sans original personality) an accident in which a metal spike drove through his skull. Today, we have Mihir Kumar, a six-year-old boy, who reportedly survived after a metal pole fully pierced his torso. London's Daily Mail reports that after the child's lucky, unlucky fall from a roof in Ranchi, India, doctors at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in nearby Bariatu successfully removed the rod earlier today.
"Could it have been safely removed and have a surviving child? It's possible," says Jeremy Aidlen, assistant professor of surgery and pediatrics at Brown University's Warren Alpert Medical School in Providence, R.I.
The pole appears to have penetrated the area of the kidneys, liver and the upper gastrointestinal tract, says Aidlen after examining the photo. The photo reveals a suspicious lack of blood, but he says this might be because the pole itself had staunched the internal bleeding. To remove it successfully, he says, physicians would have to control the major vessels that supply blood to the impacted area, repair any damage it caused to organs and control subsequent bleeding.
He says the operation wouldn't be any easier on a small kid than on an adult, but that "a child would have much more physiological reserve to recover from such a devastating and traumatic injury."
Aidlen isn't familiar with any similar cases, aside from old Phineas Gage, though such a case was featured on the television drama Grey's Anatomy. Other than the buttocks, Aidlen says, the least dangerous place to sustain such a dramatically dangerous injury would be "one side of the chest or the other – but certainly not both."
Map of the state of Jharkhand, India (where Ranchi is the capital) courtesy of Haros via Wikimedia Commons