A 4 year-old-boy is recovering after a metal straw pierced an artery in his neck.
The freak accident occurred when preschooler Charlie DeFraia fell from a porch ledge while sipping a yogurt drink through a metal straw at his family’s home in East Moriches, New York, in June, according to Today.
The fall caused the straw to go through Charlie’s tongue and into his throat, and puncture his right carotid artery, which provides blood and oxygen to the brain.
“I just saw blood on his face. I assumed he busted his nose or his lip, or bit his tongue,” Charlie’s mother, Crystal DeFraia, told Today. “I never could have imagined that it was as serious as it was.”
The boy’s father Charles DeFraia, an internal medicine doctor, realized that the injury could be life-threatening.
“It was evident that he was really losing a serious amount of blood, and he actually stopped breathing on me a couple times,” Charles explained. “I had to protect his airway, and that’s really all I could do at that point.”
“As a parent, you’re spiraling. You’re watching your son dying in front of your eyes,” Crystal added.
Charlie was then transported via ambulance to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment.
Dr. Richard Scriven, chief of pediatric trauma at Stony Brook Trauma Center, told Today there was “just blood everywhere” when the boy arrived at the hospital. He added that Charlie had “no measurable blood pressure” due to the blood loss.
“I’ve been a surgeon for over 30 years, and it was a lot of blood,” he said.
As doctors worked to uncover the cause of Charlie’s injury, his mother suggested the metal straw.
Scriven said, “I was like, now this unfortunately totally makes sense.”
Dr. David Chesler, director of pediatric neurosurgery at the hospital, said that it remained unclear “what kind of neurological insult he was going to suffer from this [injury]” after scans showed complete loss of blood flow to Charlie’s right carotid artery which limited blood to his brain.
Charlie then underwent surgery using a stent graft to fix the punctured artery.
“It’s a stent graft, so what it did is recreated a brand new carotid artery inside Charlie’s old carotid artery,” Dr. David Fiorella, director of the Stony Brook Cerebrovascular Center, explained.
He continued, “In doing that, it not only stopped the bleeding and sealed off the bleeding, but also restored normal blood flow to the right side of Charlie’s brain.”
After spending a medically-induced coma and being released from the hospital in July, Charlie is now on the road to recovery and will begin kindergarten this fall.
“Kids his age just have the most unbelievable ability to recover from this damage that [adults] just can’t. It’s unreal what they can sustain and recover from,” Chesler said.
“Everything fell into place for Charlie that day,” Scriven said. “I truly believe another five minutes and I don’t think we’d be looking at this beautiful boy here.”
However, he advises people to get rid of their metal straws or “or at least don’t let children use it.”
That’s it — no more metal (or glass) straws for us. We’ve head one-too-many horror stories.