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Apr 4, 2001

Wait Says He Had To Undergo More Surgery To Repair Job Botched By Doctors In Daytona

Racer Matt Wait had to undergo additional surgery in California March 20 because doctors in Florida installed the wrong size plate in his arm, Wait said. Wait was injured during practice for the March 4 Formula USA Unlimited Superbike race.<BR><BR>In a FAX to Roadracing World, Wait wrote "My injuries were pretty bad from Daytona. I ended up breaking my left arm above the elbow in about seven places. I don't remember anything from the practice session at all on the 929. The team said I went out and never came back.<BR><BR>"Witnesses said that it had just started to sprinkle as I went out. Everything looked fine up until the chicane where the accident occurred. They said I dipped into the chicane left-to-right. On the turn to the right the front started to tuck under, I recovered it only to be highsided right after; I landed hard, and slid right into the wall.<BR><BR>"Next thing I knew I was waking up in the hospital saying ‘What the hell happened?' Next thing to happen I said to the doctor as I was all drugged up, ‘Call Dr. Ting, he'll know what to do, he's the best,' making the doctors feel real good in Florida. Actually, they suck! Dr. Ting told them which size plate to put in my arm but they second-guessed him and decided the plate size was too big and opted for a smaller plate which as a racer was no good for me being that I need to be back on the bike as soon as possible.<BR><BR>"So I ended up staying on until the (Daytona) 200 in Florida, then returning to L.A. on Monday (March 12). Wednesday, Thursday, Friday were spent at USC having tests and things done to see if anything else was wrong with me. Tuesday went in for surgery again to put in the right-size plate.<BR><BR>"Surgery went well, my arm is healing fairly well. I had a nerve that was smashed from the bones in my arm getting broken. The nerve runs down my forearm and controls the strength of my fingers--it's a little weak but is coming back nicely. The doctor had to take some bone out of my left hip to fuse in with some of the broken bone as well, so my hip is pretty damn sore as well.<BR><BR>"I'll be at Willow (April 19-22) either way. Just the question is will I be able to race, that's an unknown as of right now. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping I will be able to. It just depends on how fast I can heal.<BR><BR>"This is a tough sport as you know, one day you're a hero and everybody loves you, then one day you're down on your luck and everybody forgets your name.<BR><BR>"I love racing, that's why I do it and I'll keep on doing it until it's not possible any longer. Thanks for your support and thank you to all my fans. Keep on racing!"<BR><BR>Wait's problem with plate size mirror problems encountered by Ryan Landers in 1998. Landers crashed at Daytona and broke his right upper arm, which was plated at Halifax Medical Center, the same hospital where Wait underwent surgery. The plate in Landers' arm was too small and actually broke during physical therapy, forcing Landers to undergo more surgery to have the plate replaced with a larger plate. Complications related to the second surgery included a staph infection that almost cost Landers his arm. After weeks on IV antibiotics, Landers beat the infection.<BR><BR>The size plate used in Wait's arm may work if the arm is immobilized for weeks and is not used to support or lift any weight. It is not suitable if normal activities are to be quickly resumed or if early physical rehabilitation is scheduled.<BR><BR>Besides the problem with the too-small plate being installed in his arm, Wait also had an undiagnosed injury involving stretched neck tendons which left several vertebrae without the proper support. That injury was diagnosed and corrected at USC Medical Center, where Wait's arm was also repaired.<BR>