The family of a 10-year-old Missouri boy is now thanking God for sparing his life after he was dangerously impaled in the face by a nearly foot-long meat skewer.
"Only God could have directed things to happen in a way that would save him like this," said 10-year-old Xavier Cunningham's father, Shannon Miller, in an interview with Fox4KC. "It really was a miracle."
Miller explained on a GoFundMe campaign seeking to raise $200,000 to help with his son's medical expenses that Xavier was playing with some friends in a field behind the family's home on Saturday when the accident that could have taken his life happened.
"They discovered a BBQ meat skewer laying in the grass and picked it up so no one would step on it. As the afternoon progress[ed] they stuck fork end of the skewer into the ground. After asking permission they proceeded to climb into the neighbor's treehouse for the first time to play. Unbeknownst to everyone there was a large yellow jacket nest in the treehouse," he said.
"My son and his friends were attacked by the swarm and he fell onto the skewer. After many hours of prayer and planning the team at KU Med Center saved his life and removed the skewer from his face," Miller explained.
Dr. Koji Ebersole who assessed the path of the skewer in Xavier's face at the University of Kansas Hospital, explained in a video posted on The University of Kansas Health System's YouTube channel that he was "amazed" that the boy had survived the injury.
"I was amazed that he was alive, let alone, awake and talking," Ebersole, the hospital's endovascular neurosurgery director, said. "This is passing 6 inches through the face, just underneath the skull, all the way to the back of the neck."
He noted that the skewer barely missed two critical blood vessels to Xavier's brain. If the skewer was a millimeter closer to any of them, he said, the 10-year-old's injury would have probably been "unsurvivable if it poke right through the carotid."
"But it went right next to it and right next to the vertebral artery. That trajectory is essentially one in a million. I just can't believe that," Ebersole said.
Thankfully, a medical team of about 100 people were able to remove the skewer without any further injury.
"The most impressive thing about the story is how this thing could pass so deep through that part of the body and not hit something critical," Ebersole said. "I don't know how the kid could be so lucky."
Miller said his son was more worried about the yellow jackets than his injury after the accident, and the family turned to God as the medical team worked for hours to remove the skewer safely.
"I said, 'Lord I don't care. I know you have a plan,'" Miller said.
When the surgery was over he said: "All I can remember is laughing and crying and cheering. Just the support of my friends and family, it was powerful."
He told NBC News that his son is expected to be discharged from the hospital this week and he's "looking forward to church, football and school."