WARNING: Graphic content
A WA handyman has been labelled a “medical unicorn” and is miraculously set to retain 100 per cent of his vision after doctors delicately removed a nail shot deep into his eyeball during a renovation accident.
Stephan Giersberg was installing a new living room window frame at his home in Boyup Brook, 150km east of Margaret River in the state’s South West, on August 17 when a 35mm nail ricocheted off the wall into his left eye.
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The 45-year-old, who was not wearing safety glasses while operating the nail gun, initially thought he had been hit by a timber splinter — but a quick trip to the mirror showed otherwise.
“I only had a few tiny things to do and I would have called it a day,” he told 7NEWS.com.au.
“I had scratched my glasses and I thought, ‘it’s just a few nails, what can go wrong?’
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Carlo went to bed as normal. When he woke up, he was paralysed from the waist down
“That was my mistake.”
Giersberg was able to collect himself before driving one minute to the local hospital — with the nail still stuck 18mm deep in his eye.
Staff used a small paper cup to stop the nail from being bumped before he could be flown to Royal Perth Hospital.
He had to go by helicopter because doctors were unsure how pressure from a plane’s cabin, travelling at a higher altitude, would affect the injury.
That night, surgeons cut into his eye to cleanly remove the slim piece of metal before stitching it back together.
Stephan Giersberg is fortunate to have retained his vision after a nail shot into his eye during a renovation accident. Credit: Stephan Giersberg
Giersberg has been dubbed a “medical unicorn” because he suffered no lasting damage, with his sight expected to return completely within three months.
He is very lucky. A millimetre either way and the former chef said “I could have been permanently blinded”.
“I didn’t think I could get away from this as I did. I had lots of luck but it was also down to the good works of doctors, nurses, surgeons and aftercare.
“They were all massive in this outcome.”
Boyup Brook Hospital nurse Allison Booth said this emergency was a first for her after 44 years of experience. Credit: WA Country Health Service
Even with more than four decades of experience, Boyup Brook Hospital nurse Allison Booth said this emergency was a first for her.
“In my 44 years, I’ve seen most things, but I’ve never seen that,” she said.
“It really is a wonderful example of the amazing medical treatment we have available here in our small town.”
Incredibly Giersberg is already back on the tools, albeit “on light duties” and now with full protective equipment in place.
“It’s so easy to get complacent,” he said.
“Safety recommendations are there for a reason. It only took a quarter of a second for something to go horribly wrong.”
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