Doctors reattach toddler's head after internal de-capitation in 6-hour operation

09 October 2015

A 16-month-old Australian boy is recovering, smiling, eating, and walking, only two weeks after his spine was separated from his skull in a head-on car collision.

After being airlifted from the site of the crash  in New South Wales, Jaxon Taylor was seen in Brisbane by Australia's "godfather" of spinal surgery, Dr Geoff Askin, who said in a news report from Seven Network Australia that the child's head had been pulled off from his neck.

Seven Network reported that the child underwent a 6-hour surgery during which a halo was attached to his skull and the surgeon  then reattached his vertebrae using a tiny piece of wire. Using a piece of Jaxon's rib the two vertebrae were joined back together.

According to Askin it was the worst injury of its kind he had ever seen and a lot of children would not have survived such an injury, or if they did, they would never move or breathe again without help.

Though the injury had been referred as "internal decapitation," by some, according to Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgeon and spine specialist Dr Michael Yaszemski who spoke to CBS News, "In general, this is not a day-to-day term we use in medicine."

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

Jaxon will need to continue wearing a "halo" neck brace for at least a couple months as his spine healed, but he seems to be taking it in his stride.

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