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An Update on Stafon Johnson's Condition

Reports are coming out on Stafon Johnson's condition following 7 hours of surgery to repair a severe throat injury.

From the L.A.Times...

USC tailback Stafon Johnson is doing well and his athletic fitness helped him pull through a serious weightlifting accident that required more than seven hours of throat surgery, a trauma expert said today.

Dr. Gudata Hinika, trauma director at California Hospital Medical Center, said during a news conference that Johnson was communicating nonverbally with family, friends and teammates while being weaned from a ventilator.

"His spirit is very good," Hinika said.

Johnson was injured Monday when a bar fell on his neck during a weightlifting session at USC.

Hinika said Johnson underwent an emergency tracheotomy when he arrived at the hospital by ambulance. Surgeons then began reconstructive procedures.

"Had that been any one of us, meaning me, I would not have survived," Hinika said. "His neck was so solid and so muscular, that actually helped maintain his airway.

"And the discipline one learns from being athletic also really helped him to calm down and just do what he needed to do. He took instruction very well. All those in combination ... contributed to his outcome."

Hinika said it was rare injury, especially for weightlifting.

Simply amazing...

Who would have thought that all of his training and athleticism actually saved his life.

Here is a little more from RipsIt...

The senior from Compton is expected to remain in intensive care at California Hospital for about a week, Hinika said.

For seven hours on Monday afternoon and evening, doctors performed a "very successful surgery" to repair Johnson's airway and reconstruct his voice box. Hinika said the anatomy of the structure around Johnson's vocal cord was "destroyed, fractured and displaced" after the freak weightlifting accident on Monday morning at USC. Hinika said Johnson was not able to breathe on his own when he arrived at the hospital, and he underwent the emergency operation right away.

Johnson now has a temporary tracheotomy and feeding tube.

"He's doing as well as expected," Hinika said.

Though he is writing and using hand signals already, doctors do not know when Johnson will be able to verbally communicate.

"We'll have to wait and see," Hinika said.

Hinika called the injury "very, very rare," but said his athletic background aided him.

"If anyone is not athletic like Stafon, maybe they don't survive," Hinika said. "His neck is so solid and muscular and [he has] the discipline of being an athlete. He was able to stay calm and took instruction very well. He's a brilliant guy who understood his situation and handled it well.

"Being physically fit certainly helped."

Johnson is far from being out of the woods.

Here is a little more from ESPN...

USC tailback Stafon Johnson is awake and communicating via writing and hand signals less than a day after emergency surgery to repair throat injuries from a weightlifting accident, according to a doctor at the hospital where he is being treated.

Dr. Gudata Hinika, the trauma medical director at California Hospital Medical Center, said Johnson is giving thumbs-up signs and communicating in writing to his mother and teammates after undergoing a seven-hour surgery to repair a crushed neck and larynx.

Johnson is in critical but stable condition, the hospital told ESPN's Shelley Smith.

Johnson, a senior who scored the seventh-ranked Trojans' go-ahead touchdown against Ohio State two weeks ago, was bench-pressing Monday when the bar slipped from his right hand and fell onto his throat.

Stan Johnson, the player's father, told ESPN's Smith that his son needed a tracheotomy to enable him to breathe.

Hinika said a man of lesser stature would have died from the injuries, but the thickness of Johnson's neck muscles helped him to breathe and probably saved his life.

There is also a video from Pete Carroll's presser this afternoon discussing Johnson's progress.

Remember this was major surgery. The next few weeks are going to be critical just to get past the complication stage then he will have months of rehab to learn how to breath and swallow in as normal fashion as possible.

I would be ecstatic if Stafon got on the field again...

But after talking to a few MD's I work with here in NYC, I just don't hold out much hope due to the nature of the injury, the apparent extensive reconstruction and the nature of Stafon's position as a running back. He takes a lot of pounding as it is.

Football is the least of Stafon's worries.

As for the surgeons who did the procedure, they have said that they see no reason why Stafon could not play football again next season. I would not expect them to say anything different. Everyone's complication rate is zero less than twenty four hours out...

I am not trying to rain on anyone's parade, I am just looking at it objectively. Lets get him healthy first and worry about the other stuff later...

I am just not seeing his returning to football as realistic.

I am just thankful that he is alive.