13-year-old Maryland boy survives freak accident after 6-inch screw lodges in his skull


    Darius Foreman survives freak accident with 6-inch screw lodged in his skull. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Alan Cohen, Johns Hopkins Hospital)

    A 13-year-old Maryland boy had a freak accident last Saturday when he fell from a tree and a 6-inch screw lodged precariously in his skull.

    Darius Foreman was building a tree house in Salisbury on the Eastern Shore last Saturday when he fell. Somehow, the screw went through his skull and into the very top part of his brain.

    “I think a millimeter made a difference in this kid whether he was going to live or die,” said Dr. Alan Cohen, the Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

    Cohen says he was told the board attached to the screw was about five feet long. Local firefighters were able to saw some of it off. They had to be careful because if the screw was pulled out it could have caused potentially fatal bleeding.

    “The problem was that [it] was still a big board that was impaled into his brain, and he couldn’t fit in the Medevac helicopter, so they had to wait and get another transport helicopter that was bigger,” Cohen said.

    Darius was eventually flown to Johns Hopkins. Cohen’s wife Dody Robinson – who is also a neurosurgeon – was able to get the board unattached from the screw in his head. But getting the screw out was going to be very dicey.

    “So if we were to unscrew it, there could be torrential hemorrhaging,” Cohen said.

    He says he and his team drilled holes in Darius’s skull to the left and right of the screw.

    “We carefully drilled the bone away down to the dura, the linings of the brain, so that we could manipulate the screw,” Cohen said.

    Cohen says they were able to get the screw out, and thankfully the dangerous bleeding they had feared did not happen after it was removed. He says titanium was used to replace the parts of Darius’s skull that had been drilled away.

    Darius is on antibiotics but was able to be released from Johns Hopkins on Thursday – his 13th birthday.

    “You wouldn’t know that this happened to him. You wouldn’t know that he was a millimeter from death’s door,” Cohen said. “It’s a story with a happy ending.”

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