Israel Surgeons Reattach Boy’s Head To Neck After Internal Decapitation


Hadassah Medical Centre doctors reattached a 12-year-old boy’s head to his neck in an exceptionally uncommon and complicated procedure following a terrible accident in which he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle, the Jerusalem hospital reported on Wednesday. Suleiman Hassan, a Palestinian from the West Bank, was taken to Ein Kerem’s Hadassah hospital’s trauma centre, where it was revealed that the ligaments anchoring the posterior base of his skull were seriously injured, causing it to become separated from the top vertebrae of his spine, Times of Israel reported. Bilateral atlanto-occipital joint dislocation is also known as internal or orthopaedic decapitation.

The injury is extremely uncommon in adults, and much more so in children.

“We fought for the boy’s life,” said Dr. Ohad Einav, the orthopaedic surgeon who performed the surgery with Dr. Ziv Asa and a huge operating room and intensive care team. The procedure was performed in early June.

“The procedure itself is very complicated and took several hours. While in the operating room, we used new plates and fixations in the damaged area… Our ability to save the child was thanks to our knowledge and the most innovative technology in the operating room,” Einav was quoted by the Times of Israel in its report. 

Einav, who returned to Israel a year ago after completing a fellowship at trauma centres in Toronto, believes that this uncommon injury had occurred previously in Israel. He is one of just a few surgeons in Israel that specialises in trauma surgery for spinal injuries, as far as he is aware.

Hassan was just sent home with a cervical splint and will be closely watched by Hadassah specialists.

“The fact that such a child has no neurological deficits or sensory or motor dysfunction, and that he is functioning normally and walking without an aid after such a long process, is no small thing,” Einav said.

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