updated 3/29/2009 7:21:04 PM ET 2009-03-29T23:21:04

Surgeons successfully removed a 15-centimeter (6-inch) fishing spear from the brain of a man who was struck while diving off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, doctors said Sunday.

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Emerson de Oliveira Abreu apparently fired the spear, which ricocheted off rocks and penetrated his own head so deeply that only the tip was showing, family members and authorities said. Local media initially reported that Abreu was accidentally shot by a friend.

Doctor Manoel Moreira told Globo TV that the it took five hours of high-risk surgery to remove the projectile from Abreu, who is doing well and is not likely to suffer major, lasting damage.

The spear entered just above Abreu's left eye and missed the most critical areas of his brain, Moreira said.

"It's a miracle," said Abreu's father, Edilson, according to Globo's G1 Web site.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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