Quentin Tokar of Maryland and his family were fishing off a pier in the Outer Banks region earlier this month. They were watching a fisherman remove a ray's barbed stinger when the barb snapped off, flew through the air and stabbed Quentin.
"I honestly thought that we were gonna lose him that night, that was it and he was gone," said his mother Candace Tokar.
The barb hit Quentin's liver and was removed the next day.
"I don't really have words for what it felt like. I just pretty much starting screaming, 'Get it outta me,'" he said.
Quentin is being treated at a hospital in Baltimore after an infection from bacteria on the stingray's body spread. He's expected to be OK.
His family is keeping the 4-inch stingray barb in a medical jar, but they plan to encase it in something permanent.
A similar incident killed the crocodile hunter Steve Irwin four years ago. A stingray's barb pierced his heart, and he lost a lot of blood when he pulled the barb out.
Stingray barbs have little sharp serrated bones along its sides. Luckily for Quentin, a nurse was fishing nearby and told everybody not to pull it out.