Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Memories of Malarchuk

Clint Malarchuk was a busy guy yesterday.

Now a goaltending coach for the Blue Jackets, the former NHL netminder had more than 50 requests for interviews, and given Richard Zednik hasn't yet spoken, offered his own harrowing account of his near on-ice death experience.

"I looked at (referee) Terry Gregson, his eyes were way wide and he screamed, 'Get this guy a stretcher. He's going to bleed to death,'" said Malarchuk, 46. "I said, 'I'm not waiting for a stretcher,' and skated for the exit.

"I was scared, weak. I said to Pizza (former Sabres trainer Jim Pizzutelli, a former Vietnam medic who saved Malarchuk's life), 'Am I going to live?' Honest to God, I thought I was done. Blood was squirting everywhere, and I knew my mom was watching. I didn't want her to see her son die on live TV."

John Vogel in the Buffalo News writes that Zednik's injury was actually more severe than Malarchuk's gruesome cut:
The Clint Malarchuk comparisons can stop. Richard Zednik's injury was much more life- threatening.

"Clint actually cut his external jugular vein, which is quite different from your common carotid artery," Dr. Leslie J. Bisson said. "Your common carotid artery, when that's lacerated, it can very quickly become a fatal injury."

The four doctors who treated Zednik used words today such as "profusely," "devastating," "hanging by a thread" and "lucky" to describe the sliced carotid artery injury suffered by Zednik on Sunday.
One reporter who's been covering the incident right from the very minute Zednik was cut is the Associated Press' Buffalo-based sportswriter, John Wawrow, who has penned countless updates in the past 36 hours.

He provides some good information on what the life-saving surgery entailed:
Doctors said the skate blade just missed cutting the jugular vein.

The carotid artery supplies blood to the brain, while the jugular vein takes blood from the brain. Blood pressure is much higher in the carotid artery.

Sabres orthopedic surgeon Les Bisson, who attended to Zednik shortly after he got off the ice, said losing five units — about five pints — of blood was significant, but "not a lot" for this type of injury.

According to Noor, the slashed artery was "hanging by a thread." She stressed if the artery had been completely severed it would have recessed into the neck, requiring even more extensive surgery.
I find it incredible how they can patch human beings up after something like that, but from the sounds of things, Zednik should be back to normal within a month or so.

It's expected he'll be able to come back and play at some point, although I would guess that would be sometime next season.

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At 7:22 a.m., February 12, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A paramedic told me when he heard it was the carotid artery he was amazed that Zednick survived it. Skating to the bench likely saved his life. Scary....really really scary. To his family, friends and team mates, may your stomaches eventually return to their normal spots and your hearts stop racing. To Richard, speedy and full recovery.

At 11:34 a.m., February 12, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zednik was very lucky that he played in NHL and not in Europe where he would have died for sure.

In Europe they don't have ambulances ready at the rink during games so first they have to call one. Good luck with that in situation like this.

At 4:56 p.m., February 12, 2008, Blogger Doogie said...

To follow up the doctor's comments, the external jugular vein is also a lot smaller than the internal one, if I remember my anatomy classes correctly, and carries less blood. Still deadly if it's cut, but not as much as the CCA. That's [i]the[/i] vessel carrying blood to the entire skull, including the brain.

At 10:38 a.m., February 13, 2008, Blogger Kevin said...

Also of interest is the fact that Dr. Bisson was the first doctor to get to Kevin Everett of the Bills as he lay paralyzed on the field in the game against the Denver Broncos.

Talk about a "what are the odds" kind of situation.

At 12:58 p.m., February 13, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Zednik was very lucky that he played in NHL and not in Europe where he would have died for sure.

In Europe they don't have ambulances ready at the rink during games so first they have to call one. Good luck with that in situation like this."
Interesting comment except that:
A. Neck (& full face) protection in mandatory in most European leagues.
B. At least in the UK all major sport (soccor, rubgy etc) events have ambulances in attendance, I don't see why ice hockey would be any different.
C. Advanced first aid facilities are always in attendence for contact sports in the UK e.g rubgy, hurling, shinty, canoe polo, polo etc...
D. With the use of neck (and face!) protectors amublance attendance becomes less of an critical issue.


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