Doctors in Israel have reattached a boy’s head after he was hit by a car while cycling.
Twelve-year-old Palestinian Suleiman Hassan, from the West Bank, was decapitated internally – with the base of the skull and top of the spine detached, but the skin is still intact.
Decapitation is the total separation of the head from the body. Internal decapitation occurs when a sudden impact to the head causes the ligaments and muscles that hold the skull in position on the upper vertebrae of the spine to tear.
The injury is very rare – accounting for less than one percent of spinal injuries.
Doctors said Suleiman’s head was “almost completely detached from the base of his neck.” He underwent a painstaking operation that lasted several hours, performed by an intensive care team.
Dr. Ohad Einav and Ziv Asa with 12-year-old Suleiman Hassan at Hadassah Medical Center after reattaching his head
Suleiman was cycling when a car hit him. He was airlifted to Hadassah Ein Kerem’s trauma unit in Jerusalem and immediately operated on.
His injury was rectified in early June, but the Jerusalem hospital waited a month to announce the results.
The actual incidence of internal decapitation is unknown, as 70 percent of victims die instantly or are on their way to hospital.
“We fought for the boy’s life,” said Dr. Ohad Einav, one of the surgeons who operated on the patient. The time of Israel.
The operation is only possible if the large blood vessels are still intact, because the blood supply to the brain must be maintained.
A study of internal decapitations of children at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recorded 16 of the injuries in 17 years.
The injury is treated by fusing the skull and spine together using rods, screws, plates, and possibly bone grafts.
Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine and practicing internist at NYU Langone Medical Center and Fox News contributor, told Fox News Digital that the surgery is “amazing.”
Fortunately, Dr. Einav had recently returned from a fellowship in Toronto where he performed the surgery on adults.
Dr Einav said: ‘The procedure itself is very complicated and took several hours. In the operating room, we used new plates and fixations in the damaged area…
“Our ability to save the child was due to our knowledge and the most innovative technology in the operating room.”
After surgery, patients undergo rehabilitation to help them regain movement in the neck.
Suleiman has been discharged with a cervical splint and doctors will continue to monitor his recovery.
He has no neurological deficits or sensory or motor impairment and can walk unassisted.
Suleiman’s father, who did not leave his son’s bed during his recovery, said: “I will thank you all my life for saving my dear only son. Bless you all.
“Thanks to you, he got his life back, even when the odds were slim and the danger was obvious. What saved him was professionalism, technology and quick decision making by the trauma and orthopedics team. All I can say is: thank you very much.’
According to a 2015 review study, internal decapitation is three times more common in children than in adults.