10-Year-old boy covered in wasps falls from treehouse directly onto a meat skewer

10-Year-old boy covered in wasps falls from treehouse directly onto a meat skewer

Xavier Cunningham was just your average boy from western Missouri, playing with his friends, when one Saturday afternoon, he took an unfortunate fall. Xavier was with his friends in a neighbour's house, when they tried to climb into a treehouse that happened to house a wasp's nest.

One of those wasps landed on his hand, and soon, Xavier was covered in yellowjackets.

Xavier's stepfather, Shannon Miller, said that the boy fell face-first onto the ground, onto a meat skewer they'd found earlier in the day, stuck in the ground. "He said he felt something hot and burning in his face and then saw the end of it and immediately knew what had happened," Miller revealed.

Xavier was taken to a local hospital in Harrisonville, 40 miles from Kansas City. Then, he was taken to University of Kansas Hospital to treat his terrifying wound. His surgeon said that the skewer entered Xavier's head inches underneath his eye, travelling several inches into his skull, but miraculously, not only did the skewer not pierce Xavier's skull, but it also managed to evade all of his vital organs and blood vessels.

Still, there was a long way before Xavier was out of the woods. While the medical tried to put together a plan to help to get the skewer out, Miller and Xavier's mother stayed up while he slept, so they could stop him trying to pull the skewer out of his own face. "That was the hardest part," Miller said.

He revealed that Xavier would sleep for a few minutes at a time, before waking up in a panic asking: "Am I dead? Am I still alive?" They did, eventually, make it through to Sunday morning, where surgeons worked at not only removing the skewer as cleanly as it had gone in, but also keeping a clear airway for the boy to breathe (the skewer had rendered Xavier unable to open his mouth).

Xavier Cunningham Credit: Shannon Miller

Koji Ebersole, director of endovascular neurosurgery at the University of Kansas Health System, said that they didn't want to damage Xavier's blood vessels further by pulling it back out. So instead, surgeons opened an incision in the side of Xavier's neck, exposing blood vessels so they could control Xavier's bleeding, and using an X-ray, tried to remove the rod.

“We were worried about how hard to pull the device because it was buried so deeply,” Ebersole explained, but “after an inch or so, it started to move more freely". While Ebersole is expecting Xavier to experience some changes to his voice because the skewer was so close to his vocal chords, he's not expected to be significantly impaired.

Xavier is still recovering in the hospital, but is expected to return home at some point this week.