A man rushed into surgery with a nine-centimetre knife sticking from his eye socket owes the saving of his sight to the quick actions of a police officer.
A leading surgeon last night praised the actions of the officer, who was confronted with a grisly scene in Christchurch early yesterday as he responded to break up a drunken fight after a party spilled onto the street around 1am in Flockton St, St Albans.
The officer who found the 20-year-old man with the knife sticking from his eye had medical experience. Instead of removing the 9cm knife he ensured it stayed put until paramedics could treat him.
Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer - a specialist eye surgeon who is based at the Eye Institute - last night said the officer's quick actions had probably saved the injured man from further optic damage.
"He has done the right course of action . . . in general principles, it was a very appropriate action to take," Danesh-Meyer told the Sunday Star-Times.
"It depends on the path of the knife and how it is removed; the removal can actually cause more damage than the actual introduction of the knife . . . depending of whether it is going through the optic nerve or the retina.
"Unless you know what you are pulling out and what anatomical structures are coming across in the path, the appropriate thing to do is not pull it out. It is the same with glass or, sometimes, nails."
Surgeons at Christchurch Hospital yesterday operated to remove the 9cm knife from the man's skull. Police said he was treated for "non-life-threatening injuries".
A police spokesman said the house on Flockton St had hosted a party on Friday night. "It is believed an altercation occurred on the street close to the property, and a 20-year-old man, who lives at the address, was stabbed in the head by another man using a 9cm knife.
"He was stabbed just behind the eye and the knife remained embedded in the victim's head. One of the police officers who was first on the scene had emergency medical experience and made the decision to leave the knife undisturbed."
Christchurch police confirmed yesterday that they had arrested a 20-year-old at the scene. He had been charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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