Leeds man cheats death in pickaxe accident

Sheldon Mpofu. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Sheldon Mpofu. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Have your say

A man working in his garden cheated death by millimetres when a pickaxe flew into his forehead and entered his skull.

Sheldon Mpofu had a miracle escape when the pointed end of the tool hit him in the middle of the head as he turned over soil.

Despite his injury he still took a bus to hospital in Leeds – where doctors were stunned when they realised the pickaxe had entered a sinus (hole), avoiding touching his brain which would have proved fatal.

Sheldon told the YEP: “It still amazes me. We are short of miracles. I’m a Christian and I want to let people out there know that miracles can happen.”

The accident took place last month as Mr Mpofu was preparing his garden in Morley to lay some turf.

As he swung the pickaxe down it caught on a washing line and then recoiled, hitting him in the head.

Blood was pouring from his head and he called the non-emergency 111 number for advice.

They told him an ambulance was not necessary but he should go to hospital within an hour, so he bandaged the wound and took a bus to St James’s Hospital.

There medics did not immediately realise how serious the injury was, but an X-ray and CT scan showed how far the tool had penetrated his head.

He was transferred to Leeds General Infirmary by ambulance, where specialists in the field are based.

“They said there are sinuses in the forehead which are essentially empty spaces. It was just a few millimetres from entering my brain,” he said.

“How it didn’t go through – it was amazing.”

A string of doctors came to see him after hearing about his unbelievable escape.

“They told me I was a celebrity round the hospital,” he said.

“The doctor said ‘do you realise how lucky you are?’

“Everyone was telling me I’d been so lucky.”

The 37-year-old had five stitches under local anaesthetic and was kept in overnight and given antibiotics and a tetanus injection.

His wound is now healing well, though he has been suffering from headaches, but he has been told he does not need an operation.

He said it wasn’t until back home that the seriousness of the incident sunk in.

“I feel like I’ve had a second lease of life. It’s made me value life because anything can happen,” Mr Mpofu added. He says he will use the pickaxe again in future – very carefully.

“I will definitely use it again.”

Hospital Director Andrew Eadsforth pictured with the Stryker Mako Robotic Arm Surgery System, at the  Nuffield Hospital, Leeds...21st November 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

Robotic arm will transform hip and knee surgery in Leeds