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Toddler recovers completely from key lodged in eye

DANVILLE — When doctors told a central Kentucky couple that their 1-year-old son had completely recovered after having a car key lodged in his eye, his parents thought it was a miracle.

Chris and Staci Holderman at first thought their son, Nicholas, might lose his eye after he fell off a recliner in September and landed on the keys.

But six weeks later, he went for a checkup and the pediatrician had to ask which eye the child had hurt.

"I always believed in miracles, but I have never seen anything like this in my life, and we just feel blessed by the Lord," Chris Holderman told The Advocate-Messenger.

The accident happened on Sept. 2 after the family returned to their Perryville home from a ball game. Holderman said they were home for only a few minutes when Nicholas fell.

"Staci went to pick him up and that's when we saw the key," Holderman said. It had pierced the boy's eyelid and was lodged in his eye.

The couple dialed 911 and emergency workers, including assistant Boyle County Fire Chief Anthony Young, arrived a couple of minutes later.

"I've been doing this for 22 years, and I have never seen anything like it, and don't care if I ever do again," Young said. "It was awful, but when it's a child you take those things the hardest."

Nicholas was airlifted to University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington and his parents raced to get there by car.

When they got there, the news wasn't good — the key had gone so deep, it was near his brain.

"We found out at the hospital it had gone that far through," Holderman said. "We knew then that we were no longer dealing with just the loss of an eye but possibly life and death."

Nicholas spent six days in the hospital. Doctors found no brain damage, but were worried at first that the eye had ruptured. It hadn't.

Six days after the accident, Nicholas was able to open his eye. And six weeks later, doctors say his vision is almost perfect.

"The EMS and fire department guys deserve a lot of the credit," said Chris Holderman, who is principal at Perryville Elementary School. "I have a lot of their kids at school, and I guess I look after them during the day and they looked after my boy that night. I will never be able to thank them enough, but I will spend the rest of my life trying."