Kansas Boy Very Lucky to Survive Knife Impaling His Face

KANSAS CITY, Kan.—A 15-year-old Kansas boy got a large knife to the face, and doctors say he’s extremely lucky.

Jimmy Russell said her son, Eli Gregg, was playing in the evening of June 13, outside of their home in Redfield, about 90 miles south of Kansas City, when she heard him scream. She found him with a 10-inch knife jutting from just below his eye and called 911.

“It looked pretty grim, it was scary,” Russell said in a video released by the University of Kansas Health System, where he was treated.

The knife was embedded in his skull and extended to just under his brain. The blade’s tip, meanwhile, was pushing against his carotid artery, which supplies the brain with blood.

“It could not have had a pound more force on it and him survive that event,” said Dr. Koji Ebersole, who oversaw the extraction. “I don’t think he would have survived it.”

A team of surgeons put together an intricate plan to remove the blade Friday morning. They were prepared for possible bleeding into the brain, but the operation went without a hitch and the artery remained intact.

3D imagery of Eli Gregg's skull with a knife embedded
This 3D computer graphic model made from X-Ray imagery by The University of Kansas Health System shows how a tip of the knife stopped right on and was pressed against the carotid artery as the X-Ray image shows the skull of Eli Gregg. (The University of Kansas Health System/AP)

Within 24 hours of the surgery, Eli was able to talk and make light of the situation. He was due to be discharged on Monday.

“He says he is going to stay away from sharp objects,” Russell said. “That is very understandable.”

She said Eli is doing great and should make a full recovery.

“It is almost a miracle,” Russell said. “It is really, really amazing.”

15-year-old Eli Gregg, in the hospital with his mother Jimmy Russell, after doctors removed a 10 knife that impaled his face
15-year-old Eli Gregg (R) recovers in the hospital bed in Kansas City, Kan., as his mother Jimmy Russell watches after doctors removed a 10″ knife that impaled his face when he fell while playing, on June 14, 2019. (Cliff Erwin/The University of Kansas Health System/AP)

The boy is fortunate he ended up in Ebersole’s hands, as it was Ebersole who removed a meat skewer from the skull of a 10-year-old Missouri boy last year in an accident that provided equally shocking X-rays.

Xavier Cunningham was playing in a tree house with friends on Sept. 8, when yellow jacket wasps bombarded them, causing him to fall 4 feet off the ladder, landing on a metal meat skewer sticking straight up.

But despite the spike penetrating 5-6 inches, surgeons were able to remove it safely with no major damage to any vital tissues.

Ebersole said it was “miraculous” that no more damage had been done.

“This thing had spared the eye, spared the brain, spared the spinal cord,” Ebersole told Kansas City Star.

“You couldn’t draw it up any better,” Ebersole said. “It was one in a million for it to pass 5 or 6 inches through the front of the face to the back and not have hit these things.

“I have not seen anything passed to that depth in a situation that was survivable, let alone one where we think the recovery will be near complete if not complete.”

For the boy’s father, Shannon Miller, Xavier’s brush with death has only strengthened his belief.

“Only God could have directed things to happen in a way that would save him like this,” he told Fox. “It really was a miracle.”

Epoch Times reporter Simon Veazey contributed to this report.