Alex Smith details sepsis scare, possibility of amputation after horrific leg injury in 2018

Cassandra Negley
·Writer
·3 min read

Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith spoke openly with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” about nearly losing his life due to sepsis after undergoing surgery for the horrific leg injury he suffered in November 2018.

“Very much lucky to be alive. Very lucky to still have my life,” Smith, 35, told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap in an interview that aired Saturday.

“So yeah, going back to your original question, good to be here,” he added with a widening smile.

Smith reportedly underwent at least 17 surgeries after suffering a compound fracture of the right tibia and a fractured right fibula against the Houston Texans. He dealt with an infection days after the initial surgery and up until Saturday hadn’t spoken as in-depth about what happened in the hospital.

Smith details sepsis, potential amputation

Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith sits in the stands during the game between the Washington Wizards and the Detroit Pistons at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith said he's 'very much lucky to be alive.' (Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

Smith said he was supposed to be discharged right before Thanksgiving 2018 when the initial inspection was spotted a few days after the surgery. He went septic — the infection was in his blood — and was put under heavy sedation for pain.

“I don’t remember much for a few weeks,” Smith said. “I had quite a few surgeries in a row. ... [The] next thing I remember is waking up several weeks later faced with the decision of amputation or limb salvage at that point."

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs as the body’s extreme response to an infection. It can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death. Due to tissue damage, it can result in amputations as well. That’s what Smith said he was up against.

He chose to save his leg and underwent additional surgeries, he said. Eventually he was cleared, discharged and began rehab. He thanked his family, medical staff and trainers for helping him through.

Smith wants to prove he can be a QB again

Smith mentored Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes before the Super Bowl quarterback took over the reins and Smith went to Washington. He did the same for rookie Dwayne Haskins this past season while rehabbing.

Smith, the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft by the San Francisco 49ers, is continuing his quest to return to the NFL.

"There's enough there that I can go out there and play ... 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."

He is under contract through the 2022 season. First-year Redskins head coach Ron Rivera said he won’t forget Smith in the quarterback competition ahead.

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