Athlete awakens from coma

Julian Williamson

More than three weeks have passed since Saddleback football player, Jamal Malone, 20, was rushed to Mission Hospital with massive head trauma, which he received during a fight at a near-campus party Sept. 22.

He arrived at the emergency room in a coma, which eyewitness Ashley Gollwitzer, 20, kinesiology said occurred from hitting his head on the pavement at the Promenade Apartments. This happened after getting punched during an altercation involving current and former members of the Saddleback football team.

Malone has since gone through several tests and procedures following the date he was admitted, including CT scans, surgical-implanting of a tube to drain his stomach acids, and the installation of feeding and breathing tubes. Most dramatic of all was a surgical procedure in which a section of his skull was removed to relieve his inner-cranial pressure.

Malone’s parents have been living through all the highs and lows of their son’s gradual recovery in the waiting room of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU).

After two weeks of small steps toward recovery, Malone has recently been making long strides to make his way out of the SICU. In the last week, he has been weaned off the medications keeping him in a coma, and has regained consciousness.

According to posts made by Yolanda, Jamal’s mother, on CaringBridge.org, he has been able to start communicating with those in his room without speech by slowly nodding and shaking his head as well as with the use of facial gestures. She also reported that he was able to write short statements, now that he has regained many of his motor functions.

Also posted by his mother, Malone has been able to get out of bed with some assistance and walk for short periods of time. Though everyone at the hospital is thrilled with his progress, Jamal has been in a great deal of pain because of cramping in his legs, due to the inactivity of the last several weeks.

As the Lariat previously reported, two of Jamal’s close friends, Kylee Clouse, 18, liberal arts, and Brittanie Rivoli, 18, liberal arts, have organized several fundraisers for the Malones to defray the cost of Jamal’s mounting medical expenses.

“Jamal is such a fighter. He’s been doing astronomically well in his recovery and it’s been such a blessing having all the support for him,” Rivoli said, “We’ve had donations from all over the world, to help with his medical bills. Every cent really helps.”

Rivoli said that Malone will be transferred to a rehabilitation facility after he progresses further in his recovery in the coming weeks.

Long hours and steadfast commitment for their cause have proved valuable in their cause, raising more than $4,000. to date.

They raised over $1,000 at Saddleback’s football game on Saturday, selling bracelets from a booth near the field.The two also set up donation boxes at Ripe Tide in the Kaleidoscope, where Jamal worked as a waiter, and Starbucks locations on Oso pkwy, near Tesoro High School, from which, he graduated in ’05, and on Marguerite near Saddleback.

They are also accepting cash and check donations, with details posted on CaringBridge.org.

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