Ryan Morais Update
After the crash and the road to recovery
RYAN MORAIS INTERVIEW
Story By Pete Peterson Photos By And Provided By Hannah Morais
On January 21 at the Los Angeles Supercross Ryan Morais had a horrible crash with Trey Canard and Weston Peick after Canard had doubled a triple on the first lap and Morais landed on him as Canard rode up the third jump. The crash left Ryan with three fractured neck vertebrae, broken teeth, a concussion, and a severely broken jaw.
Three and a half weeks later we got Ryan’s wife, Hannah, to relay his answers to these questions via email from their home. To keep up with Ryan’s recovery and coffee drinking you can follow him on Twitter @RyanMorais65.
If you want to help this racer with his recovery, the Road 2 Recovery is doing great work to raise money by taking donations of money, items to be auctioned and raffled off, and organizing a new ride day in Texas after the first was rained out. To help in any way go to www.road2recovery.com
Pete Peterson: Do you remember the crash? Was there anything you could do? And what was going through your mind as you came down? As you were laying on the track?
Ryan Morais: No I don’t remember the crash at all. I think it’s a blessing that I don’t remember it to be honest. I can remember the whole day prior to the crash but the last thing that I remember is being on the line for the main event. After watching the crash I really don’t think that there was anything that either one of us could have done to avoid it! You can tell I was trying to avoid hitting him by leaning as right as I could without hitting anyone else in the air. Thankfully I don’t remember laying on the track either. I guess it looked a lot worse than it was since I guess my face was covered in blood. I am so thankful for all the doctors who attended to Trey and I on the track. Without the Asterisk’s mobile medical unit staff I truly believe that there would have been a different outcome for myself.
PP: Are you home now? How long were you in the hospital?
RM: I am home now. I don’t remember being in the hospital either. From what I am told, after the crash they took me to LA County/USC hospital. I was treated as a trauma patient and then transferred to ICU the next morning. I then stayed in ICU until Tuesday night and went home on Thursday afternoon. The following week I had to have jaw surgery that was scheduled for outpatient however my jaw was a little more serious than originally anticipated so I stayed one night at Loma Linda in Murrieta. I’ve been home since my jaw surgery.
PP: How many surgeries have you had and how many more are expected?
RM: So far I have had one surgery on my jaw. In the hospital in LA they aligned my jaw with wires. I thought I was going to be put under anesthesia or at least be sedated but they aligned and placed the wires on me while I was awake. At that point they decided that I would need a surgery to realign my jaw since the wires could not align the jaw correctly. However they wanted us to stay at the hospital for 5 days before I could get my second surgery so my wife made a decision to go to a doctor closer to home since she was trying to take care of our 4 month old and me. Once we met with the Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon he decided that my jaw would have to be plated to heal correctly. It was then plated. At this point in time I am expected to have one more surgery on my jaw to take out the plate. The plate removal will happen around 4-6 months.
PP: Is there any spinal cord damage? Are there any surgeries necessary for the cracked vertebrae?
RM: I did not have any spinal cord damage. At the hospital in LA I was told that my C1 and C2 were displaced however it was not displaced enough to place [me in a] halo. The doctors also explained to me multiple times that my C7 and T1 were fractured and I would be in a C-collar for 6 weeks. Once we got back to Murrieta I had repeat CT scans and MRIs on my neck. The neurosurgeon said that I had no fractures and could take my collar off.
PP: A broken jaw, relative to cracked vertebrae, doesn’t sound like it would be the worst of the injuries. But I understand it’s an especially bad break. Can you tell us where the fractures are?
RM: The lower jawbones on the left side compounded in my mouth, which explains the amount of blood that was all over me at the track. On my right upper side where the temporomandibular joint is it was also dislocated and broken. They were unable to operate on the joint because the facial nerve is located too close and the chance of facial nerve damage was too high. The OMF doctor says it will just take time to heal.
PP: With your jaw wired shut, you are on a liquid diet. How are you handling that and have you discovered any great smoothie recipes?
RM: I am on a liquid diet and because I have so many wires in my mouth anything thick gets stuck really easily. I am slowly adjusting to the diet. My wife has mastered cream of vegetable soups, lots of protein shakes, smoothies, and yogurt are in my diet right now.
PP: I understand you have health insurance, but because the facility you were taken to is out of your provider network, there are a lot of big bills from this.
RM: My wife actually works at a hospital so our insurance is through her and her work. She is employed through a UHS (United Health care) hospital so anywhere I go that is not a UHS hospital is out of network. We haven’t had any bills come in yet.
PP: Tell everyone about how the industry, including your competitors, have been responding?
RM: The support I am receiving through all of this is amazing. It’s awesome how in this industry we can all be competitors on the track but when anyone goes down it’s like one big family. My sister-in-law, Jacki Short, had friends approach her about a ride day for me. I have also had many people donate to Road to Recovery. The support that I have received is unbelievable! I am blown away at all the support we have received from family, friends, prayers, and donations. It was awesome to see everyone wearing the jersey/butt patches in Oakland. It really lifted my spirits. It all means so much to me and I can’t thank everyone enough for the continued support.
PP: What’s your plan for the next six weeks? The next six months?
RM: Right now I have no plans. My goal is to get healthy. Once I am healthy I will start to make plans.
PP: Do you think something needs to be changed in race procedures to try to prevent this type of crash from happening again? If so, what?
RM: I think the biggest thing that needed to be changed was the tuff block covers. Neither Trey or I would be in the situation if the covers were on the tuff blocks more securely. Although, I know that they have already done something about that. Other than that, nothing. It’s racing and unfortunately crashing is part of it.
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