Decapitated boy has head reattached by doctors

In a rare and remarkable feat of medical skill, Israeli doctors recently performed a complex skull reattachment operation on a 12-year-old Palestinian boy named Suleiman Hassan.

The boy had been struck by a car while riding a bike and was airlifted to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Trauma Unit in Jerusalem for emergency surgery. The medical team discovered that the boy had suffered an internal decapitation, meaning that the base of the skull and the top of the spine had been disconnected, but the skin was still intact. This type of injury involves the tearing of ligaments and muscles that usually keep the skull in place.

The doctors described the boy’s head as being “almost completely detached from the base of his neck,” and several hours of surgery were needed in order to successfully reattach the skull. After the procedure, the medical team waited a month before announcing the results. Dr. Ohad Einav, one of the surgeons, commented, “We fought for the boy’s life.”

The boy’s father expressed his gratitude to the doctors, saying, “I will thank you all my life for saving my dear only son. Bless you all. Thanks to you, he regained his life even when the odds were low and the danger was obvious. What saved him were professionalism, technology, and quick decision-making by the trauma and orthopedics team. All I can say is a big thank you.”

A 2015 review study found that internal decapitation is three times more likely to occur in children than adults. An example of this was seen in 2015, when a 16-month-old toddler in Australia was successfully reattached after suffering an internal decapitation. The mother of the child said that, as soon as she pulled her son from the car, she knew his neck had been broken. One of the surgeons involved in the case commented that, “A lot of children wouldn’t survive that injury in the first place, and if they did and they were resuscitated, they may never move or breathe again.” The boy’s vertebra was reattached using a tiny piece of wire.