13/01/2015 12:01 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Boy's Life Saved After Surgeons Store His Skull In His Belly


A nine-year-old boy's life was saved when surgeons put part of his skull inside his abdomen for three weeks 'for safe-keeping'.

Jahfari Martin, nine, nearly died after he was hit by a car while cycling to a football match.

His brain became dangerously swollen so doctors at Southampton Children's Hospital, Hampshire, put the boy into a coma and removed a large part of his skull to relieve the pressure.

Paediatric neuro-surgeon Aabir Chakraborty explained: "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 gently removed the skin from Jahfari's forehead just above the eye line, then cut out a section of skull bigger than a adult's hand to help alleviate the pressure.

Once it was removed the team created a pocket in the Year Five pupil's stomach and kept the pieces of bone there for 18 days.

The schoolboy said: "It was like a rock was in my belly, like I had swallowed a rock or something."

He was even 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. He was finally discharged three days later.

Three months on Jahfari is back to his old self having received a get well soon card from his hero, Chelsea captain John Terry, thanks to his big brother Tre, 18.

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."

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