Boy’s life saved after surgeons store skull in his stomach

The revolutionary procedure was performed on the nine-year-old who had a brain injury.

Jahfari Martin was hit by a car in a cycling accident, in which he almost died. His brain was dangerously swollen so doctors at Southampton Children's Hospital, Hampshire removed a large part of his skull to relieve the pressure. It remained in the nine-year-old's abdomen for three weeks for 'safe-keeping'. Paediatric neuro-surgeon Aabir Chakraborty explains: "It was life and death. The skull stops the pressure being relieved; hence pressure in the head rises, stopping blood coming into the brain and eventually you will die. "Jahfari was going in and out of consciousness. In those situations you only have one option and that is to remove a very large amount of bone from his skull." Surgeons removed the skin from Jahfari's forehead just above the eye line, then cut out a section of skull bigger than an adult's hand to help alleviate the pressure. Once it was removed the team created a pocket in Jahfari's stomach and kept the pieces of bone there for 18 days. He said: "It was like a rock was in my belly, like I had swallowed a rock or something." He was allowed to go home with his skull in his abdomen and returned to hospital a week later for it to be replaced over the top of his head during another operation. Mum Sheryl, 38, of Sholing, Southampton, said: "Every mother prays for their child but I feel I had the Lord's prayer tattooed to my brain. "I slept in the chapel at the hospital most nights - it was quite an ordeal." The unusual procedure is known as a bi-frontal decompressive craniectomy and insertion of bone flap into anterior abdominal wall. Mr Chakraborty said: "It's an elegant solution, particularly in children. "Obviously you can't have someone without the bone in the long term. But we had to store the bone somewhere. "In the past we used to put it in a medical freezer or use a tin plate which is custom built. "There is a reasonably large pocket in the tummy. The magical thing about that is it is a sterile environment, it won't be rejected by the body and it is very straight forward to go back and take the bone out." Jamie Hilton, who won 2009 Mrs. Idaho and who suffered a head injury during a fishing trip had a similar treatment (pictured right).  
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