Dr. Saturday

Tulane safety Devon Walker stops breathing after hard hit, has to be revived by CPR

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

There was a frightening scene just before halftime of Tulane's game at Tulsa, when Tulane safety Devon Walker stopped breathing after a hard hit and had to be revived with CPR.

Fox Sports reported Walker stopped breathing on the field. Walker left the stadium in an ambulance. KTUL-TV reported that Walker suffered a broken neck and a collapsed lung, and a tracheotomy was performed.

Walker has a cervical spine fracture, and he is immobilized. The New Orleans Times-Picayune said Walker will undergo surgery in the next couple days. On Saturday night, it also reported that Walker had some feeling in his arms and legs but Tulane team Dr. Greg Stewart said the long-term possibility of paralysis from the neck injury is not known yet.

"I think it's unknown," Stewart said. "We talked to the (team) tonight about it and the reality is you don't know for 24 to 48 hours. It doesn't matter how they present. You do that 24-48 hours before you really know what is going on. … That's what I told the guys is what we know is that we don't know and anyone who comes out and tells you that they do know — they don't know. The reality of where we are right now is saying our prayers and sitting and waiting."

Walker was attempting to tackle Tulsa H-back Willie Carter when he and teammate Julius Warmsley, a defensive tackle pursuing the play downfield, crashed into each other helmet-to-helmet. The Associated Press spoke to Walker's brother Raynard, who said their mother was watching the game on television when the injury happened.

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Dr. Saturday's Kristian Dyer received a statement from Tulane team physician Dr. Buddy Savoie on Walker:

"Tulsa medical staff did a great job taking care of him. Full compliments to them. He is at the hospital right now, and he is stable. Currently he is in traction. He did sustain a cervical spine fracture. He has a lot of edema in his neck," Savoie said in the statement. "He is currently in traction, and he is being treated for that edema, and the plan currently is for him to have surgery in the next day or two. There are great spine surgeons involved, and that is kind of all that we know at the moment."

The scary moment caused a hush over the stadium and national concern about Walker's health and well-being.

"He was conscious and he never completely lost consciousness. He was breathing, and I think the emergency response from Danny Taylor, our head trainer, was superb as he stabilized him. It went as well as it could go," Dr. Savoie said. "There are always concerns about stability, but he is stable right now and he was stable when we transported him. I do not think based on the information that I have that his life was ever in danger or at risk. I think the medical staff, both our Tulane trainers and Tulsa medical team did a fantastic job stabilizing this young man with a severe injury."

Thoughts and prayers go out to Walker, his family and his teammates.

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