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Boy pierces brain with antler, but miraculously is fine

Connor Luke Schick, 5, learned a lesson most parents drill into children the hard way.  It took an antler to pierce his brain to get it through Connor's head that running with sharp objects is not a good idea. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Like most 5-year-old boys, Connor Luke Schick gets very shy when he finds himself sitting in a television studio surrounded by people he doesn’t know and cameras and bright lights. But if you start a sentence by saying, “Never run with …” in a flash he fills in the blank: “... with sharp objects.”

Around the Park City area in Utah where he lives, Connor is known as the “Deer Antler Kid.” He even brought the antler with him when he visited the TODAY show on Friday with his mom, Melissa Schick, and his stepdad, Bob Schick, to talk about the day last July when he found the antler on a camping trip.

While bringing it back to show his parents, he fell and had it penetrate his eye socket and his brain.

Thus started a story that has his doctors still shaking their head in amazement, a story whose happy ending his mother calls a miracle.

Melissa Schick told TODAY co-host Meredith Vieira that she was making sandwiches for her family while her children were walking back to camp. Connor was carrying the antler in one hand and holding the family dog’s leash in the other.

“You tripped?” Vieira asked the boy, who sat in his mother’s lap.

He shook his head emphatically no. “My dog tripped me,” he corrected her.

From then on, he mostly nodded to confirm the other details. The antler poked him in the eye. He yelped and pulled it out. A man who saw him fall swept him up and was carrying him to his parents when his mother turned around and saw him.

“We jumped up and rushed over and grabbed him,” she told Vieira. “There was just a lot of blood at that point is what we saw.”

Her first reaction was terror that her baby was going to lose his sight.

But when she wiped the blood off with a rag, all she could find was a small cut. Connor said he felt fine and had no trouble seeing.

Just to be safe, Melissa and Bob Schick took Connor to an emergency room in Park City, where doctors examined him, put antibiotic ointment and a patch on the cut, and said Connor would be just fine.

“I said, ‘Oh, this is good. We’ll go back home and everything will be all right,’ “ she told Vieira.

The next morning, Connor was full of fun. “Running around, teasing all the kids, having a good old time,” is how Bob Schick described him.

The good feelings would not last. Back at the emergency center, doctors took the patch off his eye and found that it had swollen to what Melissa Schick said was “the size of a baseball.” Realizing that this was more than just a small cut, the Schicks rushed Connor to Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

He was given a CT scan, which revealed a fracture in his eye socket. Looking for soft-tissue damage, Connor was then given an MRI, and what doctors saw astonished them: The antler had penetrated at least an inch into the frontal lobe of his brain, leaving a wedge-shaped gap behind when Connor pulled it out.

“I sat there in disbelief for a long time,” Melissa Schick said in a pre-taped interview. She kept telling herself the pictures lied: “‘They’re so wrong. They got it wrong.’”

The antler had been lying on the forest floor, and doctors knew it was loaded with dirt and bacteria that had caused a pus-filled abscess in Connor’s brain. If it continued to grow, it could threaten his life and necessitate surgery.

The medical staff decided to put Connor on massive doses of antibiotics and keep close tabs on the infection. For two months, the treatments continued, with another MRI taken at each visit to the medical center.

Medical miracle?As if by magic, the abscess kept shrinking and the hole growing smaller as the brain healed itself.

“The very last MRI I went to, I couldn’t believe it. The hole was gone,” Melissa Schick told Vieira. “It was just a normal 5-year-old little brain. I was so happy. It was kind of like, ‘Wow, this is really happening. All of our prayers have been answered.’”

She hugged Connor to her as she spoke, telling Vieira that her Deer Antler Boy, who shows no signs that he was ever injured, had taught her an important lesson.

“It makes you appreciate your children even more,” she said. “You want to hug and hold them every day and kiss them, because in a second, it can change.”