Innovative Israeli doctors miraculously re-attach a child’s head after he was gravely injured in a traffic accident.
Suleiman Hassan, a 12-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank, suffered an internal decapitation, in which the skin is unharmed but the base of the skull and the top of the spine separate.
Suleiman was struck by a car as he was riding his bike, according to Fox News Digital. He underwent surgery as soon as he arrived at Jerusalem’s Trauma Unit of Hadassah Ein Kerem by helicopter.
One of the surgeons who performed the procedure told The Times of Israel, “We fought for the boy’s life.”
As a result of the accident, Hassan’s head was “almost completely detached from the base of his neck.”
Hassan was saved by surgeon Dr. Ohad Einav, an orthopedic specialist, and a full team of doctors who fought for hours to fuse Hassan’s head to his neck with rods, screws, and plates.
The incredible surgery was performed in mid-June, but Einav did not want to announce their amazing success until Hassan was recovered enough to be released from the hospital with a cervical splint.
Despite walking out of the hospital, Hassan still only has a 50% survival rate after the successful surgery.
Internal decapitation is extraordinarily uncommon, and makes up less than 1% of spinal injuries.
It only occurs when the muscles and ligaments holding the skull in place on the top vertebrae of the spine are torn as a result of a violent hit to the head.
The extreme injury is three times more common in children than adults, likely due to their still developing ligaments, which are more lax than in fully grown humans.
According to Miami pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Toba Niazi, children’s head’s unnaturally large for their body types as they grow.
“It makes children more prone to these types of injuries because of the sheer weight of their head,” the doctor remarked.
Hassan is a lucky boy with skilled surgeons, as a 2015 study at a children’s hospital in Philadelphia found that only 31% of children with the injury survived.
“The fact that such a child has no neurological deficits or sensory or motor dysfunction and that he is functioning normally and walking without an aid after such a long process is no small thing,” Einav remarked about the surgery’s success.
An Australian toddler underwent the same life-saving surgery after being involved in a 70 MPH car crash in 2015, when he was just 16 months old.
Brisbane surgeons, including Dr. Geoff Askin, known as the country’s “godfather of spinal surgery,” worked for six hours to reattach his vertebrae with wire and used a piece of his rib as a bone graft.
The boy was released from the hospital with a stabilizing halo that he wore for eight weeks post-surgery and fully recovered.