Girl recovers after pencil pierces skull

Published On: Jan 24 2013 05:48:24 AM HST

A 20-month-old girl from New Boston is making an amazing recovery two weeks after a pencil pierced her skull, penetrating 4 inches into her brain.

The mother of Olivia Smith said she at first didn't know anything was wrong two weeks ago when her other child first alerted her to the problem.

"I didn't say anything, but I remember my 3-year-old saying, 'The pencil is in her head,'" said Susie Smith. "And I said, 'No, it's not.' So I looked on the floor, and because there was only a little bit outside of her eye, I didn't notice at first.

Smith said she didn't notice the pencil until she picked Olivia up. Seconds earlier, the 20-month-old had fallen while coloring with new pencils on a lounge chair.

When rescue crews arrived, Smith was holding her girl, who had an orange pencil coming from her right eye.

"If you go in at a 45 degree angle in the corner of the eye, it was about 2 and a half inches coming out, sticking out," said Fire Chief Dan McDonald. "And we didn't know how long the pencil was."

A helicopter took Olivia from Catholic Medical Center to Children's Hospital in Boston. Doctors there performed the delicate surgery. It turned out that the pencil was full length.

"So there were 4 inches or more impaled between the eye and the back of the skull," McDonald said.

Neurosurgeons said the pencil picked the perfect path, missing the optic nerve and major arteries.
But through the ordeal, Olivia suffered three strokes, leaving her right side motionless.

In the hospital, Olivia's mother said she kept placing things, including a sippy cup, in Olivia's right hand.

"All of a sudden, she moved her right hand all the way up -- shaking, shaking, just like that -- and she started drinking," Smith said.

Each day, Olivia improved. The family said they are grateful to the emergency workers and doctors who worked so hard to let Olivia survive and make a full recovery.

An account has been set up to help the Smith family deal with mounting medical bills. Donations can be made at the Citizen's Bank in Goffstown or sent to:

The Olivia Cecilia Benefit Fund
PO Box 351
Goffstown, NH 03045


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