Sat, Apr 21, 2012 - Page 19 News List

NBA: Najera tells how doctor fixed his skull

AP, CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

Veteran Charlotte Bobcats forward Eduardo Najera does not look like a player who just had major surgery on his skull two weeks ago.

The indentation in his forehead is no longer visible.

And there’s no visible scar from the surgery performed by Daniel Spagnoli from Charlotte, who cut Najera from ear-to-ear across the top of his head to peel back the skin on his face and repair the shattered bones beneath it.

Najera walked away with 12 screws and a mesh screen inserted in his forehead after taking an elbow to the head from Milwaukee’s Jon Brockman during a game on April 6.

“The doctor did an amazing job — didn’t even touch my hair,” Najera said with a laugh. “My first question was: ‘Are you going to shave my head?’ He’s like: ‘Don’t worry about it, the hair will stay.’ I couldn’t believe the new technology.”

“They opened my whole head, pulled my face out and fixed it. Obviously there were a lot of loose pieces they had to put back together like a puzzle, but they did an amazing job,” he said.

Then Najera smiled and quipped: “I feel like he did a facelift — not even any wrinkles.”

Brockman’s elbow came crashing into Najera’s forehead as Najera was trying to attempt a shot. As Najera went up, Brockman’s elbow came down. The two collided and Najera immediately went to the ground holding his head.

Bobcats trainer Steve Stricker said he knew right away there was a problem.

He quickly noticed the indentation in Najera’s head and rushed him to an area hospital.

“I wanted to take a shower and he said: ‘No, you’re going straight to the hospital,’” Najera said. “They wouldn’t let me see it ... They didn’t really tell me until I got back to Charlotte that the fracture was quite so big. It shattered my forehead.”

Teammate Matt Carroll said he had never seen anything like it.

“I looked at it and you could tell his head was going in,” Carroll said. “There was this big indent in his forehead ... You knew something wasn’t right.”

Najera said he feels “lucky” the injury wasn’t more serious.

“Thank God there was no [brain] injury,” Najera said. “It was close to the brain, but thanks to my big forehead it didn’t get to it.”

Najera said the days following the surgery were as painful as the injury itself.

Sneezing, or any type of jarring movement, sent bolts of pain through his head, but he is feeling almost back to normal.

“I am lucky,” Najera said.

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