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    Redskins’ Alex Smith reveals arduous comeback journey from his gruesome 2018 leg fracture

    Redskins’ Alex Smith reveals arduous comeback journey from his gruesome 2018 leg fracture that got infected with a flesh-eating bacteria amid 17 surgeries, nearly resulted in amputation, and almost killed him

    • Redskins quarterback Alex Smith has revealed that the compound leg fracture he suffered during a 2018 game nearly resulted in amputation or even his death 
    • Smith broke his leg during a 2018 game, but his situation grew much more complicated after a rare bacteria infected his blood stream
    • At one point doctors told his wife Elizabeth that their first goal was to save his life, and only then could they begin worrying about saving his leg
    • According to Elizabeth, doctors explained that Smith’s leg deteriorated quickly, turning black and blistering only hours after it appeared to be relatively normal
    • Smith missed the 2019 season, but told ESPN last fall that he hopes to continue his career. He’s earned over $161million in his career and is signed through 2022
    • One doctor said the leg fracture was ‘more comparable to a military blast injury’ 

    Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith has revealed that the compound leg fracture he suffered during a 2018 game nearly resulted in amputation or death because of a flesh-eating bacteria that took hold following one of his 17 surgeries.

    In an ESPN documentary that will air Friday night, Smith details his arduous journey back from his broken leg in which he suffered from necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating disease, due to a rare bacteria in his bloodstream.

    ‘So Alex has a flesh-eating bacteria that’s eating away at his leg,’ Smith’s wife Elizabeth said. ‘He’s septic and, essentially, dying. We’re being inundated with medical language. Family, friends, everybody is on high emotion.’

    SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO 

    Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith has revealed that the compound leg fracture he suffered during a 2018 game (pictured) nearly resulted in amputation or death because of a flesh-eating bacteria that took hold following one of his 17 surgeries

    Smith's right leg became infected with a rare bacteria called Aeromonas hydrophila

    Smith’s right leg became infected with a rare bacteria called Aeromonas hydrophila

    Many of Smith's surgeries were aimed at removing infected tissue from in and around his leg

    Many of Smith’s surgeries were aimed at removing infected tissue from in and around his leg

    Elizabeth described surprising exchange with a doctor before surgery that illustrated the gravity of her husband’s situation: ‘We’re doing the best we can. And right now, our first priority is we’re going to save his life. And then we’re going to do our best to save his leg. And anything beyond that is a miracle.’

    Smith, 35, did reveal in October 2019 that nearly half of his surgeries were aimed at removing infected tissue from his leg, but it was not until Friday’s ESPN documentary that the full extent of his ordeal has been revealed.

    According to Elizabeth, doctors explained that Smith’s leg deteriorated quickly, turning black and blistering only hours after it appeared to be relatively normal.

    One doctor described the situation as ‘more comparable to a military blast injury.’  

    In order to repair the muscle damage surrounding his right tibia, doctors needed to remove part of Smith’s left quad in what was considered a risky procedure. 

    ‘We wouldn’t want to try that surgery and — if it doesn’t work — weaken the leg that you would have to use for the rest of your life as the strong leg,’ one doctor told Smith. 

    Besides the structural damage to his leg, the skin surrounding the injury also became infected

    Besides the structural damage to his leg, the skin surrounding the injury also became infected

    According to Smith's wife, Elizabeth, doctors explained that his leg deteriorated quickly, turning black and blistering only hours after it appeared to be relatively normal

    According to Smith’s wife, Elizabeth, doctors explained that his leg deteriorated quickly, turning black and blistering only hours after it appeared to be relatively normal

    In order to repair the muscle damage surrounding his right tibia, doctors needed to remove part of Smith's left quad in what was considered a risky procedure

    In order to repair the muscle damage surrounding his right tibia, doctors needed to remove part of Smith’s left quad in what was considered a risky procedure 

    Smith missed the 2019 season, but told ESPN last fall that he hopes to continue his career.

    ‘There’s enough there that I can go out there and play,’ he said. ‘Knowing that, yeah, failure is a possibility. … I need to prove that I can come back and play quarterback in the NFL, and if I can do that, that would be great and it’ll get figured out.’

    Smith detailed his arduous journey back from his broken leg in which he suffered from necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating disease, due to a rare bacteria in his bloodstream. 'So Alex has a flesh-eating bacteria that's eating away at his leg,' Smith's wife Elizabeth (left) said. 'He's septic and, essentially, dying. We're being inundated with medical language. Family, friends, everybody is on high emotion'

    Smith detailed his arduous journey back from his broken leg in which he suffered from necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating disease, due to a rare bacteria in his bloodstream. ‘So Alex has a flesh-eating bacteria that’s eating away at his leg,’ Smith’s wife Elizabeth (left) said. ‘He’s septic and, essentially, dying. We’re being inundated with medical language. Family, friends, everybody is on high emotion’

     

    The first-overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers, Smith has earned over $161million in his career and remains under contract through 2022, when he is slated to earn $21million in salary.

    ESPN was invited to begin documenting Smith’s comeback in January of 2019 at the suggestion of Redskins team doctors.

    Smith had been asking doctors what he could expect in recovery, but was told that his situation was fairly unique, and therefore unpredictable.

    Upon hearing that, Smith became convinced that documenting his comeback could help others facing significant injuries who might otherwise feel hopeless.

    ‘That was really important to Alex,’ ESPN contributor Stephania Bell told the Washington Post. ‘He thought maybe this will help someone who thinks that there is no way forward. At the time he thought about doing it, he didn’t really know what the future would hold, so it was very brave of him to express an interest in doing that.’

    The footage is graphic, in part, because Smith did not want to sugarcoat anything for ESPN’s audience.

    ‘There’s no way to tell his story and have it really have the same impact without seeing what happened to his leg,’ Bell, a licensed physical therapist and injury analyst, told the Washington Post.

    ‘When he said he came close to losing his life, that was no exaggeration. The appreciation for how sick he really was, how compromised his leg was and why this is such an amazing story in terms of what he’s been able to do and how he’s living his life, I really think you had to know just how bad it got.’

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