USC tailback Stafon Johnson has always been a gladiator on the football field, so it was no surprise on Saturday, to hear his doctors say that his fighting spirit has greatly aided his recovery from a life-threatening weightlifting accident.
Johnson, his family and doctors held a press conference at the Los Angeles Coliseum moments before the kickoff of the USC-Stanford game, and delivered news that was much more important than anything that was about to transpire on the field.
“He has made great strides in his progress to this day,” Dr. Jason Hamilton said.
Johnson was discharged from the hospital on Oct.14th with a feeding tube in his stomach that provided nutrition and a tracheostomy tube in his neck that allowed him to breathe.
Following his release, he has undergone three additional surgeries along with hours of rehab, and the doctors were pleased to report that both tubes have been removed, and Stafon is now able to breathe on his own, swallow and eat solid foods.
“Since his discharge he has undergone a rigorous rehabilitation program which includes daily exercises for his swallowing,” Dr. Hamilton said. “He has had three surgeries since that time to augment his voice box to allow him to swallow normally and to breathe on his own.”
The doctors continue to be amazed by Johnson’s rapid progress.
“The odds that he would ever actually swallow food in a normal fashion or be able to maintain his airwave without the use of a tracheotomy tube were very much slim to none,” Dr. Ryan Osborne said.
Doctors said Johnson’s speedy recovery is due in part to his “Gladiator-type attitude” and haven’t set any limitations on what he can achieve going forward.
“No physician can tell an athlete or patient what their chances are,” Dr. Hamilton said. “We don’t put limitations on patients and didn’t put any limitations on Stafon, and he’s never put those limitations on himself and that’s why he’s made this progress.
“I think he is going to continue to make great strides. We are here to support him, his family is here to support him and we know the team supports him as well.”
Johnson once again displayed the heart of a champion when he leaned forward to the microphone and whispered seven powerful words.
“God has a plan. Run, Stafon, run,” he said - repeating the last words that his late grandfather spoke to him.
Stafon Johnson made his first public statement since suffering a life-threatening accident.
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