By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — What started out as a project to build a tree house ended in a freak accident and emergency surgery for 13-year-old Darius Foreman of Salisbury.

Last week, Darius fell and his skull was penetrated by a six-inch screw attached to a five-foot two-by-four.

“I think a millimeter made a difference in this kid, whether he was going to live or die,” says Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Dr. Alan Cohen.

The piece of wood was so long that a regular Medevac helicopter could no carry him to Hopkins. Even after firefighters sawed off two feet from the board, it took a larger chopper to fly the boy to Baltimore.

Once at Hopkins, the board was removed but the screw remained. Pointing at an x-ray, Cohen said “you see the screw coming down into the brain, so if we unscrew it, there would be torrential hemorrhaging.”

Instead, surgeons carefully removed bits of the boy’s skull around the screw, expanding the hole until the screw was successfully freed.

Darius left Hopkins on Friday, his 13th birthday, after five days in the hospital.

He was placed on antibiotics to protect against infection and returned home to Salisbury. He also kept the screw as a memento.

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