<
>

Springs' wife sues doctors for letting husband slip into coma

1/22/2008 - Dallas Cowboys

DALLAS -- Ron Springs left his wheelchair in the car and
walked through Everson Walls' front door in October, a first since
getting a kidney from his former Dallas Cowboys teammate eight
months earlier.

The next day, he went into a coma and hasn't come out.

The unexpected turn in Springs' promising and much-publicized
recovery led his wife to file a medical malpractice suit Tuesday
against two doctors who Adriane Springs says caused brain damage to
her husband during a routine surgery to remove a cyst.

"My husband was doing so well after the kidney transplant,"
Adriane Springs said. "This is just a very tragic outcome."

The suit, which names Dr. Joyce Abraham, Dr. David Godat and the
Texas Anesthesia Group, did not specify damages. None of the
defendants immediately returned calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Adriane Springs said she did not think her 51-year-old husband will
recover. He is able to open his eyes and breathe on his own but has
little movement, she said.

Announcing the lawsuit in a Dallas courtroom, she was joined by
Walls and her stepson, Shawn Springs, a cornerback for the
Washington Redskins. Shawn Springs said his father had not been
concerned about the Oct. 12 operation, in which doctors were to
remove a two-centimeter cyst on his left forearm.

Ron Springs appeared to have been improving since his February
kidney transplant, the first between two former U.S. professional
athletes. Springs suffered from Type 2 diabetes, which forced the
amputation of his right foot.

Walls, the godfather to one of Springs' children, said his best
friend spent the night before the surgery joking and razzing his
daughter about celebrity gossip.

"To take Ron the way he was after [the transplant] would have
been fine enough for me," Walls said. "But now he's not even
there. He's just laying in his bed."

The lawsuit alleges that Springs began having difficulty
breathing as he received anesthesia, and that doctors used drugs to
induce him into a paralyzed state so they could insert a breathing
tube. The intubation failed and Springs went into cardiopulmonary
arrest before being resuscitated, according to the suit.

Springs does not respond to verbal commands, the suit said, and
is in a "persistent mentally and physically incapacitated state
due to severe anoxic brain injury."

Les Weisbrod, Springs' attorney, said the coma had nothing to do
with the kidney transplant.

Springs remains at the same Dallas hospital since going into a
coma. Walls said Adriane Springs is not giving up hope, saying that
she rebuffed a neurosurgeon who broached the idea of taking her
husband off his medication.

Springs' current state is a long way from the kidney donation
that became a national feelgood story last year. In the months
following, Springs' once-ashen face again flushed with color and
his muscles grew stronger.

In an August interview with The Associated Press, Springs said
he was improving and that "If I can get back to 90 percent, I'd be
happy." He said he was doing stretching and lifting exercises
three times a week, and was optimistic about attending Redskins
games to watch his son play.

Springs played eight modest seasons in the NFL -- six with the
Cowboys and two in Tampa Bay -- before retiring after the 1986
season. In the four seasons Springs and Walls played together in
Dallas, the two forged a strong friendship.

Last summer, Ron and Shawn Springs visited several cities in a
campaign to increase awareness of diabetes. In September, Walls
testified in Washington before a House subcommittee on behalf of an
organ donation bill that would give grants to states' organ donor
programs and track the long-term health of people who have donated
organs.

Earlier that month, Walls and Springs served as honorary
captains for the Cowboys' season opener, giving them a chance to
raise awareness about their new Gift for Life Foundation. The
foundation aims to educate people about ways to prevent chronic
kidney disease and dispel myths about the living donor process.