Doctors say a five-year-old was just 0.2 inches away from death after a pencil impaled his chest and nearly punctured a major artery in his heart.
The boy, who was not named in reports, is said to have tripped and fallen onto the sharp end of the pencil while playing in his home in Lianjiang City, in South China’s Guangdong Province.
His parents have also been credited with playing a role in saving his life, after they chose not to pull out the pencil before rushing him to Lianjiang People’s Hospital.
The severity of the injury, however, saw doctors at the state-run facility reject the case, with the medics advising the parents to transfer him to provincial capital Guangzhou.
But the Central People’s Hospital of Zhanjiang - the city that governs Lianjiang - took the case and admitted the boy just in time.
He was rushed into surgery to have the pencil safely removed and he is now recovering and under observation.
Dai Ming, head of the department of cardiothoracic surgery at the facility, said the tip of the pencil had pierced the boy’s superior vena cava - the larger of two venous trunks that return deoxygenated blood from the body to the right atrium of the heart.
Had the pencil been thrust forwards by just 5 millimetres (0.2 inches), it would have punctured the artery and likely caused fatal bleeding, the doctor said.
Furthermore, Doctor Dai praised the boy’s parents for not instinctively removing the pencil, as that would also have caused excessive bleeding and the boy might not have made it out of their home before succumbing to blood loss.