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Mackay's dad reports successful back surgery, but football's a long way off

It sounds like defensive end Cory Mackay, who was severely injured in a one-car accident last week,  faces one heck of a long road back if he's ever going to make it back on a football field again.

Mackay's dad, Donald, talked with both Bud Withers of the Seattle Times and Howie Stalwick of and confirmed that his son does, indeed, have a spinal injury -- one that required a three-hour surgery on Saturday to fuse two vertebrae together.

Donald Mackay was fairly cryptic in talking about the extent of the damage done by the accident, but I think it's pretty obvious that we shouldn't expect to see Mackay on the sidelines again anytime soon. This excerpt is from Withers' story:

In an interview Saturday evening at Harborview Medical Center, his father said damage to Cory's spinal cord was "minimal." As for feeling below the waist, Don Mackay said his son has "tingling" in one leg.

"When they push him, he can feel it," Mackay said, "probably kind of an electric-shock-like feeling. So he's encouraged by that."

Linda Mackay said her son could begin rehabilitation as early as Monday. Her husband said they were told it could take up to a year "to get things back to normal if they're going to get back to normal. They just don't know."

Not exactly real encouraging. But there was this in Stalwick's piece, as Donald Mackay tried to remain positive:

“He broke his back and had no other injuries except some minor scrapes in the foot and leg areas,” Donald Mackay said. “They operated on him, and it was successful. There was minimal damage to the spinal cord.”

Paralysis, at least initially, is not uncommon when a spinal injury takes place. Asked if his son has experienced any paralysis, Donald Mackay declined to go into specifics, but said Cory’s spinal cord is “intact“ and “he’s planning to come back full if possible.”

The elder Mackay added, “We’re not accepting anything anybody says. We’ve been looking up cases of people not supposed to have any promise that did.

“We’re going to go for it.”

It's so early in the process, it's tough to know what's going to happen. But when a dad comes out and states, "We're not accepting anything anybody says," that doesn't exactly leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling that the prognosis is real good.

I will say this: Athletes have a long and storied history of defying all odds when it comes to injuries, and doctors tend to be pretty conservative with their estimates so that patients don't get psychologically discouraged in their recovery. I have no doubt that if it's possible to come back from this injury, that Mackay can do it.

His dad, for one, believes. From Stalwick's story:

Donald Mackay said medical personnel have been “preparing him (Cory) for the worst,” but his son is “tough as nails” and ready to fight.

“He’s got a good attitude,” Mr. Mackay said. “It’s most unfortunate. As a matter of fact, we’re all still in shock.

“But he’s going to try to get back. In fact, he’s determined to come back.”

If you want to do more than just pray for Mackay's speedy recovery, you can send well wishes to:

Cory Mackay (Patient)
Harborview Medical Center
325 Ninth Avenue
Seattle 98104-2499

One final thing. Original reports were vague as to whether Mackay was wearing a seatbelt. Turns out, he most definitely was. In fact, his dad went so far as to say that the tow truck driver who removed Mackay's truck said there's no way he would have survived if he hadn't.

Please, people -- always, always wear your seatbelt. And if you're tired, please, please get off the road and pull over and take a nap. My wife and I lost two members of our family in a one-car accident where the driver fell asleep at the wheel after a long day of snowboarding. Don't let what happened to us or Mackay happen to you or your family. Nothing's worse than experiencing a tragedy that's 100 percent preventable.