Fishing accident comes within millimeter of taking boys vision

Fishing accident comes within millimeter of taking boys vision

It was supposed to be a family vacation on the water at Land O’ Lakes; Instead, it turned into a frantic race on a Life Flight helicopter to American Family Children’s Hospital and a 1:30 a.m. emergency surgery.

Phoenix Mordick, 11, was in a boat with friends when he was hit in the eye with a fish hook.

“I was up at the cabin, starting to get supper ready, and one of our friends that we went with came up, and she was like, hey they need you at the dock, Phoenix as a fish hook in his eye. I thought we’re probably going to have to go get stitches, that it was in his eye lid,” Jennifer Blakely, Phoenix’s mom, said.

Instead, she discovered the hook had penetrated Phoenix’s eye. They immediately drove him to a hospital emergency room in Eagle River, but the physician there knew Phoenix would need to go to American Family Children’s Hospital.

“The doctor came in, and when we saw his face, we knew something was wrong, because he just looked at us and said, ‘I’m not going to touch this. We’ve got to take him somewhere else,'” Blakely said.

While Phoenix was transported by a Life Flight helicopter, his mother made the 4-hour drive back to Madison.

“I prayed and prayed and prayed. I mean, we come from a praying family, but I really prayed,” Blakely said.

When Phoenix arrived at Children’s Hospital, he was taken into surgery. Dr. Sarah Nehls, a cornea specialist and ophthalmologist at UW Heath, performed the delicate procedure to remove the hook.

“In this case, you can’t just pull the fish hook back out backward, because that would create more destruction of tissue,” Nehls said.

While the accident seemed like an unlucky accident, Phoenix, it turns out, was very lucky.

“In this case, Phoenix was so fortunate that the fish hook entered just to the side of the pupil and the top of the fish hook came out through the white wall of the eye called the sclera,” Nehls said.

Within two weeks, Phoenix regained vision in his left eye and now has 20/20 vision. But Nehls knows how close the fish hook nearly caused a a different outcome.

“He was less than a millimeter away,” Nehls said.

The accident reinforces the need to protect your eyes while participating in activities like fishing.

“Eye protection is a key issue,” Nehls said. “So wear sun glasses when you’re fishing. They would provide protection to the surface of the eye.”