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Child survives Decapitation?


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7 December 2006


Crash rips Chris's head from neck

By Richard Smith


A BOY of 12 stunned doctors by cheating death after his head was ripped from his neck in a car crash.


Chris Stewart, a junior racing driver, suffered "internal decapitation" - which kills most people - when his 1000cc Mini slammed into a crash barrier at 50mph after a tyre burst during a children's race.


The impact of the crash wrenched his skull from the top of his spine.


Surgeons performed ground-breaking surgery - called occipital-cervical fusion - using metal plates and bone grafts from Chris's hip to re-attach his head to the top vertebrae of his spine.


After six hours on the operating table and 19 days in intensive care - where he was kept in coma to stop him making any potentially fatal movements - Chris's life was saved.


Now two months after the crash in Alton, Hants, he is walking, swimming and cycling again - and desperate to get back behind the wheel of a car.


Mum Debra, 41, a financial adviser, said yesterday: "It is nothing short of a miracle.


"At first we did not have any idea if he would even survive, let alone what state he would be in."


Chris from Fareham, Hants, said: "I wasn't scared when the accident happened but I couldn't move anything - I was quite annoyed."


Spinal expert Evan Davies, who operated on Chris at Southampton General, phoned experts around the world before he began surgery.


He said: "An injury where all the ligaments attaching the head on to the neck were ruptured, historically, was a coroner's injury - they were non-survivable. It's incredible he made it."


Only 16 other cases in children have been recorded. Eleven died, one is a quadraplegic and three left partially-paralysed. Just one recovered fully.



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