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Teen injured at ‘pumpkin chuckin’ event breathing on his own, ‘cracking jokes’

A Hall County teenager who was seriously injured during a freak accident at a church “pumpkin chuckin” event on Halloween is now breathing on his own.

Jacob Stevens, 16, was removed from his ventilator and ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine Wednesday afternoon, according to his brother, who talked exclusively to AJC.com.

On Oct. 31 around 8:45 p.m., Oakwood police responded to the Cornerstone Assembly church on Atlanta Highway after Stevens was seriously hurt firing pumpkins from a large slingshot device, AJC.com previously reported.

MORE: Teen seriously hurt while firing pumpkins at church Halloween event

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The pumpkin did not fire properly and hit him in the chest. He was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in critical condition.

Trevor Stevens, Jacob’s brother, said his brother’s injury is incredibly rare.

“The EMT did some research on these particular cases, and only 15 to 20 cases happen in the entire U.S. each year — when the object hits the (chest and) heart at the exact moment that it’s taking a beat,” he said.

A Facebook page has been set up for the family to post updates.

The latest post said, “He is talking some and cracking jokes. Please continue to pray for his recovery.”

Trevor said his brother is still day-to-day in the hospital recovering. Jacob has moved from the Cardiac Care Unit to the Intensive Care Unit since he’s been removed from the ECMO. 

According to the U.S. National Library for Public Medicine, an ECMO pumps blood through an artificial lung, and they are typically used on sick infants and children awaiting heart or lung transplants.

Trevor said Jacob doesn’t mention he’s in much pain, and he was able to get into a wheelchair with assistance instead of remaining solely in his bed. He said doctors are optimistic Jacob might be able to go home next week. 

Trevor said his brother has kept his sense of humor through it all.

On Monday, a Facebook post made by Trevor on the page said, “I went to see Jacob, I told him I couldn’t reach his head to kiss him, he motioned for me to lean in and he reached up and flipped my hat, then he smiled.”

A photo posted Tuesday also showed that Jacob Stevens wrote the sentence, “And all I freakin did was get hit by a pumpkin.” 

GoFundMe page has been set up to benefit Stevens’ family. As of Wednesday evening, it had raised $7,300 of its $20,000 fundraising goal.

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