Surgery goes well for injured NZ wakeboarder

Last updated 18:13 08/07/2014
Brad Smeele
CAMERON BURNELL/ Fairfax NZ

INJURED: Top Kiwi wakeboarder Brad Smeele has suffered a damaged vertebrae while attempting a triple somersault in training. Photo: file.

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Surgery on top New Zealand wakeboarder Brad Smeele has gone ''really well'', the doctors who operated on his crushed spinal cord say.

The 27-year-old former junior world champion was attempting a triple somersault at training in Orlando, Florida on Sunday when he landed short.

Brad underwent a seven-hour surgery on his damaged fourth vertebrae, which left him with no feeling from the neck down. 

His sister Monique said Brad was out of surgery, and doctors had learnt his spinal cord was crushed, but not severed.

''Apparently that's a really positive thing, but I don't know exactly what it means,'' she said. 

The family would have more of an understanding about Brad's prognosis when younger brother Alex and their mother were updated by the surgeons close to midnight (NZ time), Monique said.

"My other brother is over there, and he saw Brad when he came out of surgery and he wasn't really awake, I think he was trying to wake up, but he was pretty heavily sedated.'' 

The levels of support the family had received since Brad's injury had been ''overwhelming'', Monique said. 

''I just can't believe the support that he's getting - I mean, Brad's an incredible person and he's got a lot of friends in a lot of places so I can understand why everyone wants to help him... But the amount of messages we've received and the support we're getting, I just can't even describe what it means to us and what it will mean to Brad once he knows.'' 

The donations that had flooded in since a givealittle page had been set up for Brad would be ''incredibly helpful'' on his long road to recovery, she said. 

More than $25,000 had been raised so far. 

Brad has been wakeboarding for 11 years and has been a professional for four years.

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