Nasser Lopez, 16, was swimming in a lake near his Miami-area home June 8 when his 15-year-old friend was loading a fishing spear gun and accidentally touched the trigger, sending the 3-foot spear into Lopez's head, The Miami Herald and Miami's WFOR-TV reported.
Neurosurgeon Ross Bullock said Monday Lopez was in serious condition and his recovery in the hospital is expected to take several months.
"It's a miracle the spear missed all the main blood vessels of the brain," he said.
Bullock and colleagues at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital and the Army Trauma Training Center said when Lopez arrived by helicopter with the protruding spear, they resisted the urge to immediately remove it.
Instead, they borrowed rebar cutters and vise grips from the Miami-Dade Fire Department to stabilize the spear while they developed a strategy to remove the spear and its tip, which entered the right side of his brain 1 inch above his eye, Bullock said.
It took the surgeons 3 hours to gingerly remove the spear. Lopez is sitting in bed and can speak a few words, but the extent of his injuries are not yet clear, Bullock said.