“Miracle Surgery” Saves the Life of Internally-Decapitated Toddler in Australia

“Miracle Surgery” Saves the Life of Internally-Decapitated Toddler in Australia
Science & Medicine

Surgeons in Brisbane, Australia have reattached a toddler’s head following a catastrophic car accident in what is being called “a miracle surgery.”

Little 16-month-old Jackson Taylor, along with his 9-year-old sister, was riding in a car driven by his mother when their vehicle collided with another vehicle driven by an 18-year-old man traveling 70 mph. The force of the crash caused an internal decapitation, separating Jackson’s head from his neck.

Doctors didn’t think the child would survive. His mother, Rylea, said she knew his neck was broken as soon as she pulled him out of the vehicle.

The New South Wales toddler was air-lifted to a hospital in Brisbane, Queensland, where x-rays confirmed Rylea’s fears: the force of the crash had pulled Jackson’s head from his neck internally. Doctors said it was the worst injury they’d ever seen. [1]

Dr. Geoff Askin led a 6-hour surgery to reattach the boy’s head, which involved attaching a halo brace to Jackson’s skull and holding him completely still while reattaching his vertebrae using a tiny piece of wire. A piece of Jackson’s rib was used to graft the two vertebrae together.

A ring attached to the metal halo had to be secured to Jackson’s head during surgery, and metal pins were used to secure the halo. The ring was then connected to 4 bars that were attached to a tiny body vest on the boy. The rigid brace must be worn by Jackson for 8 weeks, then he will return to the hospital to have it removed. [2]

“A lot of children wouldn’t survive that injury in the first place,” Askin told 7 News Melbourne, “and if they did and they were resuscitated, they may never move or breathe again.

Jackson’s sister, Shane, suffered abdominal injuries in the crash, but is recovering.

Fortunately, miraculously, little Jackson is doing just fine. Once the halo is removed, he will be able to lead a normal life. [3]

Jackson’s case is unique and certainly horrific, but it is not the first time that a child has survived an internal decapitation. In August 2010, 2-year-old Micah Andrews’ skull was separated from his spine when a vehicle slammed into the front passenger side of the car that his mother, Heather Andrews, was driving.

When Heather called out to her children, her 4-year-old daughter responded, but Micah did not.

“I put my hands on either side of his face, because if he was to wake up I didn’t want him to jolt,” she said. “And I leaned as close to him as I could and listened to his breath.”

The family was pulled from the car and rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, where doctors told Micah’s family the devastating news.  They said that even the slightest movement could stretch the toddler’s spinal cord, either paralyzing or killing him. The boy would need surgery, his parents were told, but it would be a complicated one, as the surgery would need to take place next to Micah’s brain stem and nerves.

Micah’s surgery was nearly identical to Jackson’s. Surgeons positioned sandbags on either side of Micah’s head and he was taped down “very precisely,” said Dr. Nicholas Theodore, a neurosurgeon at Barrow Neurological Institute, part of St Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, who treated Micah.

Nearly 2 months after his surgery, Micah got to go home to be with his family, and therapy helped the youngster learn to walk and talk again. [4]


[1] Fox News

[2] Inquisitr

[3] AOL

[4] ABC News