A man from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., spent three years with a knife blade in his upper back, despite having been checked by multiple doctors and nurses.

Billy McNeely, 32, was stabbed three years ago, but the weapon wasn't found until this week.

"They never took no X-rays, they just stitched me up, bandaged me up," McNeely recalled of the day he was stabbed five times and taken to the health centre in Fort Good Hope.

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Billy McNeely said he was always setting off metal detectors, and that he also had a burning sensation in his upper back, where the knife blade was located. (CBC)

Over the years, McNeely said, a lump formed on his back that always burned and caused him trouble.

McNeely says he went to several doctors but was always told the same thing — nerve damage was causing the pain.

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McNeely said he's considering taking legal action against the N.W.T.'s Department of Health, as he saw multiple doctors who dismissed his complaints about back pain. The blade was removed this week. (CBC)

"I've done some jail time in the past. The guards rub over you with a metal wand detector, and every time it hit my back in the jail it went off," he said.

This week, he felt something different.

"My nail caught a piece of the tip of the blade that was underneath the skin and made a little sound, so that worried me," he said.

His girlfriend, Stephanie Sayine, took a look.

For readers in the North, the full story will air on Northbeat Wednesday, March 20, at 5 p.m. PT/6 p.m. MT/8 p.m. ET.

"I told Billy, ‘There's a knife sticking out of your back.’ I was scared. I was ready to pull it out with tweezers," she said.

Doctors pulled a 7.5-centimetre blade from a kitchen knife out of McNeely’s back.

"I'm kind of upset with the health system," he said. "They should've X-rayed right off the beginning in case there was internal damage," he said.

McNeely, who asked to keep the blade as a souvenir, said he is considering taking legal action against the territory’s health department, and has already left messages with lawyers.