November 9, 2010 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Martin Walking After Successful Spinal Surgery

CHN Staff Report

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Denver senior Jesse Martin had succssful spinal surgery Monday at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn. Tuesday, Martin walked with help for the first time since being injured in an on-ice collision in a game at North Dakota on Oct. 30.

During the surgery, doctors stabilized the fractured C2 vertabra by inserting a screw in the bone. The other vertabrae were also realigned. Martin is breathing on his own, swallowing, talking and moving his limbs.

“These injuries are very serious. They can cause paralysis," Dr. Alex Mendez, one of the performing surgeons, said. "Some people can die. If he had been hit a little bit more, we probably wouldn’t be here. This was a violent injury.”

Martin will be in a "halo" for the next four to six weeks, and will remain in the hospital for rehabiliation for 7-10 days. After that, Martin will be transferred to a facility in Denver to continue his rehab.

“He has been down for a long time, it’s not good for people to lie in bed for a long time," Dr. Robert Morgan, another member of the surgical team, said. "We now have to get him used to being upright, get him used to walking. We have to get him solidly healed.”

Martin was injured when he was checked by North Dakota's Brad Malone. The play was eventually ruled worthy of a five-minute major and game misconduct. But later that week, Martin called Malone, who had been upset over his role in the incident, to reassure him that Martin didn't hold any ill will towards him.

Martin's vertabrea did not have to be fused, which leaves open the possibility he could play hockey again one day.

“There’s no way we’re going to know that for a year. A lot of things have to go right, but I’m not going to tell him he can’t," Morgan said. "If he was fused, then no (he couldn’t play again). There would be a lot of things that he wouldn’t be able to do. But the possibility is there, the potential.

“This surgery has the most potential for him to be normal two years from now.”

Said Jesse's father, Terry Martin, “Jesse has had no other wish in life but to play hockey. But he has tried to focus on what the doctors have been telling him rather than look too far ahead.”

Terry Martin said that Jesse believed he was paralyzed when he first was laying on the ice.

“Seeing Jesse walk was amazing, it was amazing. I haven’t had a feeling like that. The only thing that can compare was seeing him born.”

And Terry said that Jesse has been great in his handling of the situation.

“He said, ‘Some people look at the glass as half-full, some people look at the glass as half-empty, I’m extremely grateful I have a glass.’

“He was tentative when he was walking. He was afraid he was going to break it again. He doesn’t realize yet how solid it is.”

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