Ryno van der Westhuizen was playing at home on Thursday, October 6 when he fell against a door and the handle pierced his left eye socket.
The handle broke off and Ryno was left with a 5cm-long piece of metal lodged below his left eye. He was rushed to a nearby hospital.
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A CT scan showed the metal missed his brain by millimetres and miraculously did not damage the nerves of his eye.
Even though Ryno was safe for the time being, the problem facing doctors was removing the object. The longer it remained in, the higher his risk of infection and further complications.
Ryno’s mother Joet van der Westhuizen said he was taken to Netcare Clinton Hospital in Alberton for specialised surgery.
Consultant neurosurgeon Dr Van der Meulen said he was shocked and amazed by Ryno’s injury.
“You would expect catastrophic damage to the eye or the brain, but miraculously, scans showed no permanent damage to either. He is a very lucky young boy.”
The door handle that was lodged in Rynos’ eye. It was about five centimetres long. PHOTO: Netcare 911
After a comprehensive assessment, Van der Meulen and other doctors agreed the handle had to be removed.
Ryno was moved to nearby Netcare Union Hospital, where the procedure took place at a catheterisation laboratory.
The laboratory’s equipment is generally used to diagnose intricate cardiovascular conditions with minimally invasive procedures.
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Doctors performed an angiogram and used a coloured dye to see blood and lymph vessels in order to plot the safest route to remove the door handle.
“If we had to take out the piece of metal from his eye without the aid of this type of equipment, there would have been a high risk of profuse bleeding, which could have caused irreparable damage,” Van der Meulen said.
The CT scans showing the location of the door handle in Ryno’s eye socket. PHOTO: Netcare 911
Ryno’s surgery, which took place on October 8, took just over an hour and involved an anaesthetist, a radiologist specialising in neuro intervention, and an eye specialist.
The boy had made a full recovery, Van der Meulen said.
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Van der Westhuizen said watching her child disappear through the swing doors of the operating theatre was every mother’s nightmare.
Ryno was back at school and has not had any complications since the surgery.
“The medical team gave him a second chance at life and that is the best gift any boy could possibly ask for,” she said.