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Originally published May 20, 2009 at 5:45 AM | Page modified May 20, 2009 at 10:55 AM

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Australian doctor uses household drill to save boy

A doctor in rural Australia used a handyman's power drill to bore a hole into the skull of a boy with a severe head injury, saving his life.

MELBOURNE, Australia —

A doctor in rural Australia used a handyman's power drill to bore a hole into the skull of a boy with a severe head injury, saving his life.

Nicholas Rossi fell off his bike on Friday in the small Victoria state city of Maryborough, hitting his head on the pavement, his father, Michael, said Wednesday. By the time Rossi got to the hospital, he was slipping in and out of consciousness.

The doctor on duty, Rob Carson, quickly recognized the boy was experiencing potentially fatal bleeding on the brain and knew he had only minutes to make a hole in the boy's skull to relieve the pressure.

But the small hospital was not equipped with neurological drills - so Carson sent for a household drill from the maintenance room.

"Dr. Carson came over to us and said, 'I am going to have to drill into (Nicholas) to relieve the pressure on the brain - we've got one shot at this and one shot only,'" Michael Rossi told The Australian newspaper.

Carson called a neurosurgeon in the state capital of Melbourne for help, who talked Carson through the procedure - which he had never before attempted - by telling him where to aim the drill and how deep to go.

"All of a sudden the emergency ward was turned into an operating theater," Michael Rossi told Fairfax Radio on Wednesday. "We didn't see anything, but we heard the noises, heard the drill. It was just one of those surreal experiences."

The procedure took just over a minute, said anesthetist Dr. David Tynan, who assisted Carson.

"It was pretty scary. You obviously worry, (are) you pushing hard enough or pushing too hard, but then when some blood came out after we'd gone through the skull, we realized we'd made the right decision," Tynan told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Rossi was airlifted to a larger hospital in Melbourne and released Tuesday - his 13th birthday.

Carson was modest about his feat.

"It is not a personal achievement, it is just a part of the job and I had a very good team of people helping me," he told The Australian.

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Michael Rossi was more effusive.

"He saved our son's life," he said.

Carson did not immediately respond to messages left Wednesday by The Associated Press. The hospital said he was busy delivering a baby.

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