This is the doctor Dr. Washington football team. Robin West told ESPN earlier this year. When Smith suffered a compound fracture in 2018 with further complications, it looked like the former No. 1 player’s NFL career might be over.
Instead, he went through nearly two years of rehab and survived 17 surgeries to play in the NFL again. Smith has started two games for the Washington football team so far in 2020, winning his first game since 2018 in Week 11.
Here’s a look back at Smith’s road to comeback.
What is Alex Smith’s injury?
On November 18, 2018, Smith was attacked by the Texans in the backcourt. His right leg was caught at an awkward angle, and Smith suffered a compound fracture that fractured both the tibia and fibula in his right leg.
After Smith’s first surgery, he struggled to recover from the damage caused by a flesh-eating bacterial infection, which was complicated for Smith. After the first operation to treat the compound fracture, Smith required 16 more operations to fully recover his leg.
Even after returning to the game, Smith still needs to wear special titanium splints to protect his leg after losing a lot of tissue during surgery.
How Alex Smith was ‘very lucky to be alive’
In early 2020, Smith told ESPN’s Outsider that he was “lucky to be alive.”
A few days after Smith’s first surgery, a flesh-eating bacteria spread and caused huge problems. Washington’s doctor, Dr. Robin West, was with Smith at the time. “We’re doing our best,” West said, according to ESPN. “And right now, our priority is to save his life. And then we’ll try to save his leg. Anything beyond that is a miracle.”
It was this infection that put Smith’s life at risk. In response to the infection, Smith developed sepsis, which meant he released a number of chemicals into his blood in an attempt to fight it. These chemicals can cause organ damage. If medics can’t get rid of the infection, they plan to amputate Smith’s right leg.
Smith had to undergo muscle transplants and microvascular surgery to further treat the infection, and needed more than 10 additional surgeries to get everything under control, ESPN reported. Smith’s medical team was cleared to return to action in July 2020, about 20 months after the initial injury.