- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2007

BERLIN (AP) — A woman who had a pencil lodged in her head for 55 years after a childhood accident has finally had most of it removed, which should end her chronic headaches and nosebleeds, her doctor said today.

Margaret Wegner was 4 when she fell while carrying the 3.15-inch pencil, which went through her cheek and into her brain.

“It bored right through the skin and disappeared into my head,” Mrs. Wegner, now 59, told Germany’s best-selling newspaper, Bild. “It hurt like crazy.”

At the time, the technology did not exist to safely remove the pencil, so Mrs. Wegner had to live with it — and the ensuing chronic headaches and nosebleeds — for the next 5½ decades.

But on Friday, Dr. Hans Behrbohm, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Berlin’s Park-Klinik Weissensee, was able to identify the exact location of the pencil to determine the risks of removing it, and then he took most of it out.

The operation was difficult because of the way the pencil had shifted as Mrs. Wegner grew, Dr. Behrbohm said today.

“This was something unique because the trauma was so old,” said Dr. Behrbohm, who also has done brain surgery to remove bullets from shooting victims and glass from people involved in car accidents.

Although a piece of pencil about four-fifths of an inch long could not be removed, Dr. Behrbohm said it does not pose a danger.

Now Mrs. Wegner, wife of German boxing coach Ulli Wegner, will no longer have the headaches and nosebleeds, and her sense of smell should return soon, Dr. Behrbohm said.

“She shouldn’t suffer any longer,” he said.

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